Amid the coronavirus pandemic organisations around the world and their employees have been thrust, at very short notice, into the realms of remote working. While for many this has been a steep learning curve, as a global organisation Air bp’s staff were already well versed in the use of video conferencing to keep in touch with colleagues from afar. But it doesn’t mean our staff haven’t had to adjust to other challenges.
“Singapore officially went into lockdown at the beginning of April,” says Bobby Tham, general aviation regional manager, Far East.
Schools, universities and non-essential businesses have all been closed, although restrictions are due to be lifted in June.
“We are still supporting around 30 airports where we operate two JV's in China and three airports in Singapore by providing fuel. Although airports in China have started to open, we are still a long way off 2019 levels of traffic. And for the last month across China and Singapore it’s mostly been cargo and emergency flights,” Bobby continues. He is however regularly in contact with his customers and colleagues through video conferencing, “which is something we were doing prior to this crisis,” he says. “There is naturally an element of updating each other on our workloads and addressing any business concerns, but these calls are also an opportunity to check the wellbeing of my colleagues. People are still feeling anxious because of all the disruptions and uncertainty. It might just be small things like asking how they are coping or suggesting a good book I’ve enjoyed that they might like too to help lift their spirits. But it’s important to be mindful of people’s wellbeing especially if they are on their own.”
Bobby also underlines the importance of physical exercise. He reveals that he’s made a conscious effort to make sure he’s exercising regularly by keeping up with his HIIT – high intensity interval training – regime. Where his customers are concerned, Bobby explains their primary concern currently is when they will be able to fly again and how they can ensure the airworthiness of their aircraft. And with many aircraft currently grounded, for some customers in Hong Kong the imminent typhoon season poses an additional threat with aircraft parked close together and exposed to the elements.
“We are trying to address these concerns too and look at how we can help our customers.” he says. "We still provide dedicated account management and of course our 24/7 service has and will remain open as usual. We’re ready, when our customers are ready to fly again."
In terms of tips for working from home, Bobby says that keeping a schedule with a clear start and finish time, as well as ensuring he takes a lunch hour has been key for him.
“I have also found it helpful to prioritise my workload, so the most important tasks are carried out in the morning. Keeping a sense of routine has been really important for me.”
And what is he looking forward to once this is over?
“I can’t wait to go to China and meet up with my team mates!”
Through our two JVs in China – South China Blue Sky Aviation Oil Co. Ltd and Shenzhen Chengyuan Aviation Oil Co. Ltd – Air bp provides aviation fuel and related services for 29 airports in Central and Southern China.
South China Blue Sky supplies aviation fuel to five airports in Hubei Province, including the provincial capital Wuhan. It has fuelled more than 800 emergency relief and repatriation flights serving Hubei Province. The biggest challenge in terms of fuelling has been the uncertainty of aircraft take-off and landing schedules. Fuelling operators have been on standby in challenging weather conditions as they wait to proceed with a refuelling. They remain dedicated to doing their bit by supplying aviation fuel so that emergency relief services can continue to operate.
Meanwhile at Shenzhen Airport, staff working with Shenzhen Chengyuan Aviation Oil Co. have been working round the clock to maintain aviation fuel supplies for chartered flights carrying medical and relief equipment to Wuhan and other cities in China.
We will continue to work alongside our partners as the aviation industry rises to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more news and views click here.