CHICAGO — To help execute their charitable giving programs, airlines are increasingly turning to AIRLINK’s innovative, free web-based matching service to connect with non-governmental charitable organizations (NGOs).
“Corporate social responsibility programs are evolving at the airlines,” said Bob Brown, CEO of AIRLINK. “In addition to sponsorships and direct monetary contributions, airlines are now participating in initiatives that reflect a deeper, more hands-on and direct involvement. AIRLINK offers a tailor-made solution for airlines to maximize their available resources for this purpose.”
Airline membership in the AIRLINK program continues to increase (now totaling 18 carriers) as airlines are recognizing the value of its service. By participating in AIRLINK, airlines have the ability to donate or deeply discount their unused capacity to provide passenger or cargo transportation directly to humanitarian NGOs for developmental aid and/or disaster relief. Further, since all NGOs have been carefully vetted by AIRLNK, the process of selecting a charity or cause is streamlined for the airlines, enabling them to spend more time on their core business.
Use of AIRLINK by existing airline members has been successful, with air transport having been provided for 20 humanitarian missions in the first five months of 2012 alone. Just last month, Air Canada and Centurion Air Cargo utilized AIRLINK to conduct several movements transporting ShelterBox personnel and ShelterBoxes to and within Peru, where heavy rains and subsequent landslides had caused extensive damage. In March, one of AIRLINK’s inaugural airline members, Hawaiian Airlines, employed AIRLINK to provide passenger transport for All Hands Volunteers to the Philippines to assist with the building of more than 200 homes for flood survivors. AIRLINK also matched a shipment of 22 metric tons of relief supplies for CARE with transportation by Etihad Airways in 2011, providing aid for the worst drought conditions to be seen in years throughout the Horn of Africa. In the largest single movement to date, Turkish Airlines used the AIRLINK system to fully donate 46 metric tons of cargo space to provide ShelterBoxes to families in Turkey displaced by last October’s earthquake.
While disaster relief is a key component of the AIRLINK program, the overall scope of its activities also involves ongoing transport of developmental aid workers. AIRLINK encourages airlines to offer and NGOs to request non-emergency, developmental aid flights, which will best utilize member airlines’ periodic excess capacity. JetBlue Airways has recently utilized AIRLINK for this function, providing donated round-trip transportation to ShelterBox for staff to participate in training and key industry events next month.
“AIRLINK is making significant inroads into the developmental aspect of humanitarian aid as well, sending increasing numbers of staff, volunteers and aid workers to emergent regions of the world in non-disaster times,” continued Bob Brown. “This is key because the more we can assist with the alleviation of poverty conditions, which includes preparation for natural disasters, the less human suffering would occur should a disaster happen in those regions. These developmental activities occur on a continuum with emergency relief efforts.”