Imagine this: You arrive at your destination in the middle of the night after a long flight. You are tired and can’t stop thinking about how good it’s going to feel when you finally get to your hotel and lay down to rest. The country you are in has a long and frustrating customs and immigration process, which only adds to your irritability, and once you are finally out, you look for your driver, who is nowhere to be found.
How many of us have been in this situation? At best it is incredibly frustrating and, at worse, can be downright scary depending on the country in which you find yourself. Taking taxis can be dicey, especially if you are not familiar with the area or do not speak the language. A good friend of mine was robbed at gunpoint in Karachi and later discovered that the taxi driver was in league with the robbers. Incidents like this are fairly commonplace in the unstable world we live in, and the need for risk mitigation is not limited to combat zones like in the past.
In fact, one could argue that medium to medium-high threat locations are even more dangerous because the threats they pose are not taken seriously enough. The fact that the destination is not a conflict zone sometimes leads to a dangerous false sense of security. Properly vetted secure transportation is often the simplest and most effective risk mitigation measure. Generally speaking, a crew is most vulnerable to being victimized while in transit. With that in mind, the following are some key things to consider when looking at your transportation options for your next trip.
The first place to start is to find a reputable risk mitigation firm. There is no shortage of risk mitigation firms out there, and in fact, your international trip planning provider may have those services available already. A good risk mitigation firm should be able to:
1. Provide you with intelligence on the destination to which you are planning to fly
2. Provide you with service recommendations and justifications based on that intelligence
3. Have a vetted network of service providers
4. Provide driver and vehicle details at least 24 hours before your trip
5. Have an In-Position call to the driver be part of their standard operation procedure
Intelligence is a key component to being able to determine which arrangements are best for your crew and your trip. A risk mitigation provider should be able to provide you with clear and concise analysis of the situation on the ground that you will be facing. This information, combined with your operational constraints will help you determine the best course of action. If you find that you need some help with those determinations, a reputable provider will be able to assist you with making that analysis, often at no additional cost.
For instance, perhaps you are going to be cutting it close on your duty day, and delays must be avoided at all costs. This would be an excellent time to opt for prearranged secure ground transportation. A good driver is familiar with the city, traffic patterns, threat avoidance, and often corporate flight protocols. They have working relationships with the FBO that will facilitate a smooth handoff from the FBO staff to the driver. If for whatever reason, you do not link up with your driver, your risk mitigation provider should have provided you with advanced driver and vehicle details so that you can contact the driver and ensure that the person and vehicle picking you up is, in fact, your driver.
It is imperative that you not leave with a different driver unless your risk mitigation provider advises that it is safe to do so. It should be common knowledge that it is dangerous to accept rides from strangers, but you would be surprised how many captains willingly do so. This practice speaks to the false sense of security mentioned earlier. To minimize the potential for this to happen, your chosen risk mitigation firm should have an “In-Position” call be made to the driver as part of its standard operating procedure. Typically this happens about 30 minutes before pick-up time, and the call should verify that the correct driver and vehicle are in place at the designated pick up location and have coordinated with staff at that location. They should announce themselves to the FBO or hotel front desk so that you can be taken directly to them. All of this should happen seamlessly and should function to reduce your workload and to increase efficiency and security. Properly arranged and managed transportation allows you to focus on flying your passengers safely and on time while protecting you and your crew.