When aid needs to reach communities around the globe during humanitarian crises and in the wake of natural disasters, air transport ensures help arrives quickly to those in need. During the COVID-19 pandemic, commercial and cargo airlines are playing a significant role moving responders, personal protective equipment, medical supplies and other aid around the world. Through the Airlink partnership and other alliances, many airlines are offering donated flights even as they are significantly impacted by the crisis themselves. In our time of greatest need, the aviation industry is working together to treat and protect the world’s most vulnerable. Learn about their efforts below.
American Airlines has moved hundreds of thousands of pounds of medical supplies and donated nearly 100,000 meals to food banks in Texas, Arizona, and Illinois. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Mt Sinai were among the recipients of amenity kits donated by the airline.
In addition to coordinating repatriation flights with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to assist 1,000 passengers, AeroMexico is providing cargo transport for several entities. The airline is transporting medical equipment from China on nearly 20 flights for the National Well-being Institute in Mexico (INSABI) and the National Social Security Institute (IMSS). An alliance with the Mexican Red Cross has resulted in the transport of medical equipment to 14 areas of the country. The airline is also transporting medical equipment for the National Social Security Institute (IMSS). Technical specialists in the installation of medical modules for the National Support Center for Epidemiological Contingencies and Disasters Organization have been positioned in six communities.
Air Canada Cargo, the freight division of Air Canada, provides air transportation service between cities worldwide. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, passenger airlines around the world eliminated most of their flying, causing a sudden dip in air cargo capacity. Air Canada ensured the continuation of critical capacity for enable urgent medical supplies, fresh food and consumer goods by enabling its freight division to utilize passenger aircraft for cargo-only flights. Several of Air Canada’s Boeing 777-300ER and A330-300 aircraft were modified to accommodate cabin loading, which provided much needed additional capacity to meet the demands for PPE from places like Shanghai. PPE shipments from China have been transported on behalf of provincial and state governments to places from Norther Manitoba to Los Angeles.
Since the end of March, Air Canada Cargo has operated hundreds of cargo-only operate between its Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver hubs and cities like London, Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, Sydney, Auckland, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo and Los Angeles and more.
Air Canada has worked with organizations like Airlink, Global Medic and the Red Cross to provide air transport for critical goods throughout the pandemic.
Ethiopian is participating in the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering pharmaceuticals, testing kits, masks, protective suits, and other supplies to different parts of the world by deploying both its freighter and passenger aircrafts through charter and scheduled services. The airline has dedicated compartments for temperature sensitive products ranging from Frozen Room (FRO) -20°C, Cool Room (COL) +2°C to +8°C, Controlled Room Temperature (CRT) +15°C to +25°C an for all general and other special cargo. In this critical time where there is huge demand for air freight services Ethiopian has convertedits four B788, two B789 and one B737-800 passenger airplanes to cargo (with all its seats removed), in order to have more capacity on the existing 12 freighter dedicated fleet.
FedEx is collaborating with government entities and aid organizations to deliver medical supplies to communities around the world. The company has collaborated with the Department of Health and Human Services, TN Air National Guard and other agencies to move over a million COVID-19 test kits to cities across the U.S. Working with humanitarian aid organizations, they have moved N95 masks and other personal protective equipment to as many as 1,000 community health centers and free clinics as part of the FedEx Cares “Delivering for Good” initiative. More than 100 tons of respiratory life-saving equipment and personal protective equipment was delivered to China.
Hawaiian Airlines and Airlink are partnering to transport personal protective equipment for MedShare to be used in Oahu hospitals.
Polar Air Cargo, a subsidiary of Atlas Air Worldwide, teamed up with Airlink to transport more than 10 tons of supplies, including respirator masks, surgical masks, isolation gowns and more, for use in China and the United States.
Southwest Airlines® has joined forces with Airlink to help bring assistance to communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and other disasters. The airline committed 50 roundtrip tickets to Airlink for responders and is providing airlift for emergency supplies through its Southwest Cargo division. Southwest Airlines recently transported nine medical volunteers from Airlink partner International Medical Corps (IMC) to assist health systems in New York overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases. Providing surge capacity to hospitals and running emergency field units are among the activities carried out with their support. The airline also transported personal protective equipment distributed to more than 2,000 healthcare workers in Maryland and Washington, D.C.
United Airlines continues to transport supplies, including masks, gowns, and food-related aid, to global communities impacted by COVID-19. The airline also launched a mileage campaign for nonprofits depending on travel to carry out their missions and matched donations up to 500,000 miles through its Miles on a Mission crowdsourcing platform.
Volaris has transported more than 39 tons of emergency supplies, including personal protective equipment, ventilators, disinfectants, and hygiene products to more than 25 destinations in the Mexican Republic as part of its Avión Ayuda Volaris program. The airline also transported eight volunteers for the installation of a provisional hospital for COVID positive patients. Organizations benefiting from the airline’s 96 relief flights include IMSS, Cruz Roja Mexicana, ISSSTE, CADENA, Secretaría de Salud de Baja California, Fundación IMSS, Arise MX, Mexican Red Cross, Head & Shoulders, AXA Seguro and Bonafont.
Sources: Information presented above is derived from a variety of sources, including direct reporting from airlines, information from corporate websites, and published media reports. The facts and figures listed represent not only efforts made in partnership with Airlink, but also alliances airlines have formed with other nonprofits and agencies outside of Airlink’s coordination. To learn about Airlink’s COVID-19 response and view figures related to flights coordinated by the organization, click here.