Almost daily now I will get a message from someone asking if COVID-19, aka Coronavirus, will affect my Round The World trip planned for later this year.
My simple answer to this at the moment is – “I don’t know, I hope not, but I’m proceeding with my planning as if it is still going ahead”. The less simple answer is, of course it’s a concern at the moment but equally I don’t want to get dragged down by the constant stream of of activity that we’re seeing on social media with panic buying of groceries, event cancellations, and travel restrictions.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s wise to be cautious here, and any actions being taken to prevent the spread of a disease and therefore prevent lives being affected is of course a good thing. But what I don’t want to do is get caught up in the panic and make irrational decisions based on ‘what everyone else is doing’.
The company I’m using to help with clearances and handling through Russia (MAK General Aviation Services) sent an email this morning with the following:
As of today, crews and passengers arriving only to Moscow directly from China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Spain, Germany and France must stay self-isolated for 14 days. Other countries are not affected and this requirement does not apply to pax/crews traveling to other Russian cities – no quarantining required.
I am not flying through Moscow, nor am I planning to arrive from any of those countries (my plan is to arrive at Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Airport from New Chitose in Japan) however of course it is a tad worrying to receive updates like this knowing that restrictions could possibly get stricter before they ease off again.
HOWEVER – my departure date for the trip is still over 3 months away, and a lot can (and hopefully will) happen in that time. I am hoping that reported cases of infections will reduced (as we’re seeing from China and South Korea now at the time of writing) and restrictions currently in place on entry to countries (such as Italy) will be lifted.
As with everything in aviation it’s important to have one (or preferably more) backup plans. So to answer your questions, my plan is this:
Plan A – If things settle and Coronavirus goes away, I will fly the RTW flight as per the original plan.
Plan B – If restrictions are still in place and I can’t fly the route I intended, I will change the route (just like any other diversion in aviation, albeit potentially longer distances involved). I have built time and financial contingency into the trip which I can use if required for changes like this
Plan C – If restrictions continue to be in place, AND if I can’t find a way around them, I will postpone the trip to 2021. My weather window is June – October, that’s the ‘best’ time for flying the legs I want to fly, so I can’t push back to later in 2020. So if all else fails, I’d postpone the trip, do some more flying around Australia, New Zealand, and maybe parts of SE Asia in the meantime, and reschedule for 2021.
So that’s the plan. Well, I should say that’s the planS. Always good to have more than one plan, especially in times like these and always when dealing with aviation matters.
Thank you to everyone who reached out and has been asking me about my plans regarding the Round The World flight and the corona virus. It should be taken seriously, I am taking it seriously, but equally I am only making decisions based on facts, not on hearsay, nor what Twitter is telling us.
Stay safe, practise good hygiene, and I’ll keep you updated with my plans both here and across social media.
(and yes, that is me wearing an Emirates eye mask over my mouth in the photo. please do not try this, it is definitely not the correct way to prevent the spread of disease)