William remembers the surreal experience of delivering one of the first batches of the Pfizer vaccine from Frankfurt to Hong Kong in January 2021, when Europe was in a full lockdown.
“It was a very strange experience because there was no-one flying, the airspaces were completely empty - same as the airports. Frankfurt is usually one of the most active airports in Europe but we were getting cleared from 200 kilometres out because there was no one around.”
“We didn’t know as much about the virus back then - how it developed, how it behaved – and it felt like we were on a mission, kind of on the front line facing the virus. That felt very rewarding, because we knew we were helping people and that it was important for society back in Hong Kong.”
Fast forward a year, and the extended uncertainty has been difficult for everyone.
“No one knows what’s going to happen, or how many months we can keep going like this. When the Closed Loop cycles were introduced in February 2021, they were supposed to be in place for one or two cycles. But it’s a year later and now they’re being re-introduced to the freighters."
“But one thing I want to highlight is the professionalism of the crew. We’ve had to deal with a lot of changes and uncertainty. I’ve personally spent around 100 days in quarantine in the last year, and I don’t even know how many tests I’ve done - maybe 300? Other people have had it even worse - some people haven’t been able to see their family for two years."
“Yet the way everyone has responded has been quite amazing. From day one, everyone has remained incredibly professional, conducting everything in a safe, methodical manner, and shown outstanding mental health resilience in coping with the challenges.”
But William is still keen to take some positivity from a difficult situation.
“The pandemic has forced me to face a new ‘me’,” he says. “I’m proud of the fact that I’m still here with the energy to keep serving the community. The support my wife gives me every day has been essential, but aside from that what keeps me going is the knowledge that we’re doing something important for society and the hope of returning to normal life.”