After a slow start to a rapidly spreading pandemic, Ukraine embassies and consulates around the world are diverting most of their resources to the task of evacuating Ukraine citizens. 

As plans to bring Ukrainians home took shape SkyUp Airlines (Kyiv), the Ukrainian airline, brought home over 20 thousand passengers with special flights, Ukrainians and foreigners were embarked to their countries of residence, co-owner of the company Aleksandr Alba said on his Facebook page on Tuesday. 

SkyUp Airlines is a member of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC),

For this purpose SkyUp aircrafts made over 100 special flights to 30 countries within nine days, 10 aircrafts were involved. “We know that our fellow citizens still remain abroad and are ready to provide assistance for their return when the opportunity arises for this,” added Aleksandr Alba. 

For 9 days, from March 19 to March 27, 2020, SkyUp Airlines operated more than 100 special flights to 30 countries around the world to allow Ukrainians and foreigners with a residence permit in Ukraine to return home. Foreigners and Ukrainians with a residence permit in other countries could also take those flights departing from Ukraine. 

In total, during this time SkyUp has transported about 20.8 thousand passengers, among them more than 18.5 thousand are those who returned to Ukraine.

Following the official air traffic ban in Ukraine and many other countries around the world, many people have found themselves in different corners of the globe, far from their homes. The threat posed by the spread of the coronavirus epidemic has forced governments in many countries to act fast and rigidly, introducing quarantine measures and prohibiting travel within and outside their own countries. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians were physically unable to get home.

“For us at SkyUp, human life and safety is the highest priority. We know that anyone could be in their place. That is why, maintaining our strong civic position, we offered the government our assistance in resolving the situation of returning Ukrainians home. In close cooperation with the state authorities, we have obtained all the necessary permits and organized several dozens of special flights.” said Aleksandr Alba, SkyUp co-owner. 

The core of SkyUp the crews who were at the very heart of the operation and the office staff who provided organizational support for the flights and also assisted passengers, responded to requests and promptly informed them of all the changes. For many days SkyUp company has been working almost continuously and uninterruptedly, due to the fact that everyone in our team understands the seriousness of the problem and shares the values ​​of the company.

The geography of flights was much wider this time than the map of scheduled flights. Mostly these were flights to European countries: Poland, Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Germany, Switzerland, Croatia, Estonia, etc. Special flights to the Middle East and Caucasus countries were performed , and a few long-haul flights to Kazakhstan, India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

“Two weeks of quarantine have passed. There is almost no one in the office. But I know for sure that our SkyUp family is in full speed. We have taken up the overriding task - in the face of a virtually global quarantine, to help our compatriots return home. We had to work on the limit, almost every day to look for non-standard solutions, to cope with the mad stress and pressure. A typical set of challenges for those who take the courage to go beyond the ordinary life and try to make the world a little better, especially when critical situations occur.

That's why this experience that is not easy for all of us, it is completely different experience - extraordinary unity and support. And inside a team that, without any hesitation, did their job 24/7 because people needed help. And from the passengers - only when you read their stories or look them in the eye, you start realize how important it was to do what we did.” – wrote Aleksandr Alba is his Facebook page. 

“We are glad to be going home,” said one of the SkyUp passenger before departure from Sri Lanka. Ukrainians evacuated from all around the world as travel bans to block coronavirus strand thousands. 

“The process of organizing flights and returning Ukrainian citizens was very extensive and exhausting. It involved significant resources, both human and financial. The current situation in many sectors, especially in the tourism and aviation industry, is really difficult, but we believe that Ukraine will manage. For our part, we continue to progress, to work on improving the service and to make plans for the future.” said in a SkyUp statement. 

“Thank you for taking me home. Thank you for doing so safely. Take care and spread love.” grateful passengers thanks pilots for getting them home safely in handwritten note. 

SkyUp Airlines cancels all scheduled flights until April 24 inclusive due to continued measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection. Passengers who have purchased tickets for flights departing during the temporary air traffic ban may reschedule them at a later date or receive reimbursement of the ticket in accordance with the terms of the tariff.

USUBC NOTE: SkyUp Airlines is a member of U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC), Wash, D.C., 

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