In responding to the unique challenges of Covid-19, my company, DHT Aviation, applied its model and did what we always strive to do: make your flight perfect. Firstly, to provide the best possible safety for our handler, our clients and our partners. Secondly, to satisfy the individual queries from our clients and, thirdly, to be conscious of humanity and ensure a continued commitment to our values.
From the beginning of 2020, until now, the most famous word which appeared in headlines, every day, worldwide, is COVID-19. It takes me back to the first person I know that expressed concern and immediately took action due to the seriousness of this threat, my boss Mr. Cao Tuan Anh Dung. By the end of December 2019, he wrote a letter to the entire company to inform them that there was a dangerous virus in China and all stations needed to buy face marks as soon as possible to protect our handlers when handling flights from China.
During the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, I stayed at home and watched the news every day from the time I woke up, until I went to bed, to keep track of the increasing number of cases of infection. I also monitored the news regarding how many people lost their lives in China, so it was evident how dangerous this virus was. I started to send messages and called my colleagues to confirm how they were possibly continuing to serve the flights which still flew throughout the New Year. I kept telling them to take good care of themselves and to keep safe. During this time, I also received phone calls from family and friends asking about the changes / cancellation of flight schedules, also queries about the security levels at the airport and questions on the safety of travel. It was a very unusual time, because New Year is the time, traditionally, for reunion and visiting family and friends. This New Year, however, we almost all stayed at home.
The first assignment our boss gave us, when we went back to work after the New Year holiday, was to go and buy face marks. At least 10.000 masks per station / department were to be procured as donations and given to our clients and partners. These came with the wish that it could share our care and concern, and give a hand to help our partner/friends. The whole company continued to work hard together.
We needed to make sure all the flights still operated and would be handled smoothly, along with using any spare time to complete the task of acquiring and contributing the face marks. It was a challenge for all of us. In our head office, we have only four men and three women divided into the operating and accounting department so we aimed for 20.000 masks.
Between us, we contacted all possible suppliers to purchase masks, we even tried family and friends working in the medical sector. Unfortunately, they had all run out of stock. I had to go to the pharmacy center with my two colleagues, we went and bought a few boxes of masks at each store, the retail price being higher than the wholesale price, but it was all we were able to get. It took us the whole afternoon of that day and most of the next morning to buy half of the required amount. We had to order and leave a deposit to get the rest. At the same time, my other colleagues tried to maintain contact with our clients/partners.
But, due to COVID 19, some airline partners didn’t have any plans for flights to Vietnam. So we connected with the airlines which were still offering flights to help to deliver. The face masks were sent from all stations, we had to divide the number of contributions to each airline and keep monitoring and switching all the time, to make sure they went to the correct destination, enabling our friends to receive them as quickly and conveniently as possible. Fortunately, it all worked out somehow, and we received ‘thank you letters’ from our airlines partners. These letters made us very happy, and made what we went through, worth it, to get the work done.
Things did not get better quickly though, after the first week of March, I started to work from home and I only went to the office once a week for a briefing update. This remote working was challenging, as my personal laptop’s functions are not as good as the one at work. I had lots of documents that I needed to check, because flights were not running like usual, due to delays, being overloaded, having extra expenses being added on. In addition, communication with colleagues/suppliers was not as easy as before, when we were working in the same room, we could just look up from our laptops and ask or discuss something, we would get an immediate response. Working remotely took a lot more effort and time for me to complete an invoice, but it was really better than my colleagues who still were working on the front line at the airport to make sure all flights operated as scheduled.
In Việt Nam, after 3 weeks of social distancing, we came to a stage that we now call “New normal life”. I’m so glad to live in this country, because during this time the whole world had to fight very hard against the pandemic of COVID-19, with a massive increase in numbers of infections of around 250.000 people in 24 hours. Working through this time, till now, as an aviation company, although we provided service for more than twenty eight scheduled airlines, which more than half of them operate from/to China, we had no COVID19 infections in our company. This was the proof of how good our leader/our manager was, and how professionally all our staff did their jobs, I am full of admiration and am very proud to be a member of this team.
The world might not ever be like before; maybe this pandemic teach us to slow down, appreciate what we have and how quickly it can be gone; however I believe one must stay positive and hope for a better life, and continue to hold hope that this pandemic will be over soon and it will have a lots of new opportunities for all Aviation companies to grow stronger and greater.