Repatriation often isn’t as simple as moving from A to Z; increasingly, Homeland International is asked to facilitate cases from M to T, or P to Z. Such was the case for a recent repatriation from Angola to Egypt; an international insurer was working with a local repatriation organisation in Angola and became ‘unstuck’.
To further complicate matters, the insurer was working in collaboration with a local funeral company, as the family on the ground had already started proceedings with them, so it seemed easier to continue that way. The experienced operations team at the insurer’s end quickly became aware that the local Angolan funeral company were struggling to drive the case forward, hindered by the Covid-19 pandemic, which meant that flights around the world were significantly reduced. Such was the impact that the only flight departing internationally was to Lisbon, Portugal.
The insurer decided that in order to progress they needed to reach further afield for additional counsel from their own provider, briefing Homeland International on the details. By this stage, the case was almost complete; the paperwork was complete and everything was ready for the repatriation to Egypt, yet there was still not a flight available. Homeland International has access to over 350 providers worldwide, including airlines, repatriation companies, funeral directors and more. Hence, they were well positioned to facilitate the mobilisation of a contingency plan, enabling a timely completion of the repatriation.
Adjusting to flight availability issues
Homeland International utilised contacts for Tap Airlines in Angola, who were immediately contacted to see if they could arrange flights to Egypt via Portugal. This was not possible as Tap could strictly only operate flights to Lisbon, so Homeland International swiftly made contact with their own provider in Lisbon regarding onward support to Egypt from Lisbon. The solution was sourced and quoted in under one hour. Upon receipt of the quotation from Homeland International, the insurer gave the green light and began arrangements to complete the repatriation. Once again, Homeland International were fleet of foot, liaising with the local Angolan company, walking them through every step of the process.
The flight to Lisbon was once a week and, fortuitously, the following day, so efficiency was key to meeting the immovable deadline. Homeland International booked the flight through their local booking contact to Lisbon and then furnished their provider in Portugal with all the relevant information. From then, the flight from Lisbon to Cairo was booked for the day after the arrival to Lisbon. Homeland International maintained detailed communications with the local funeral directors in Angola, who transported the coffin to Luanda Angola International Airport ready for departure. Likewise, Homeland International tracked every movement, updating all parties on the successful departure from Luanda and so on. The Portuguese provider then arrived at the airport in Lisbon and once the flight had landed, ensured all Portuguese customs protocol were complete before preparing everything for the onward flight to Cairo.
No one-size-fits-all approach to repatriation
The final stage of the repatriation was to ensure the company collecting in Cairo had received the relevant paperwork and information they needed to smoothly facilitate the final collection from Cairo airport. The family’s local funeral home in Egypt were duly briefed and, upon departure from Lisbon, all parties were assured that the deceased person was on their way home. Upon arrival in Cairo, the operations team at Homeland International communicated to all parties involved that the case had gone to plan and the repatriation was finally complete.
This case study is one of very many and a key example that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to repatriation; every single repatriation is unique, presenting its own challenges that we can learn from. It also highlights the critical importance of working with a company who has proven experience in global repatriation to ensure there is always a plan B, no matter what obstacles may be faced.