Wings of hope

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share on Pinterest
  • Share on Blogger
When delivery by land renders surface transport impossible, especially during emergencies arising out of natural disasters and epidemics; where relief is called for, it is only air freight that can respond efficiently with the shortest turnaround time. Surya Kannoth...

While the outbreak has inevitably curbed general travel to West Africa, it has been offset by a surge in trips related to the relief effort. Cargo operations for various airlines have witnessed an uptick with items including drugs and food filling more of the belly space of its passenger planes. As much as 10 percent of freight capacity is devoted to humanitarian supplies carried free of charge, and some aid workers also fly at discounts. Buckets, gloves, masks, medical equipment and tents – these are some of the critical supplies that need to be stocked in the supply hubs around Liberia. Making sure the right supplies reach where they are needed at the earliest is of paramount importance. And thanks to air cargo, regular medical supplies to the virus stricken Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have helped aid the humanitarian crisis in the region. In fact, during emergencies arising out of natural disasters and epidemics; where relief is called for, it is only air freight that can respond efficiently with the shortest turnaround time. A number of airlines and airports have come forth to aid the Ebola-hit region. Lately, Volga Dnepr Airlines made a flight in support of the global relief effort to counter the outbreak of the Ebola disease by transporting medical equipment from Oslo to Freetown, Sierra Leone, on behalf of the Norwegian Red Cross. National Airlines in cooperation with the US government carried a planeload of medical and relief supplies for Ebola affected regions of West Africa using one of its B747-400 freighters. During the last leg of 2014, Cargolux Airlines chartered a flight to Liberia to provide medical supplies consisting of personal protection equipment kits. Cologne-Bonn Airport allotted an area free of charge for consolidation of air shipments in support of a humanitarian organization - United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Moreover, UPS provided $250,000 in funding to enable cargo handling and necessary overland transports to the storage facility. A Direct Relief charter from John F. Kennedy International Airport with 100 tonnes of emergency medical assistance was delivered and made available to communities gripped by Ebola. The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) and the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) have daily helicopter flights to remote locations around the country. As the world’s leading humanitarian airline, the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) currently has a fleet of more than 50 chartered aircraft, including helicopters, deployed to 13 operations. Aid workers in the deep field, with no other means of transportation, rely on UNHAS to bring them to some of the world’s most remote and isolated communities, where commercial airlines do not fly. With service to approximately 250 regular destinations in 14 countries, UNHAS carried over 364,000 humanitarian passengers in 2013. Airlink, a 24/7 humanitarian response organization links pre-qualified nonprofits with airlines. Airlink, with a network of approximately 20 airlines and 60 nonprofits, has operated with modest funding, most of which came from the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) Foundation. Since its inception in 2010, Airlink has worked with its airline partners to respond to a number of rapid-onset disasters, including the earthquake in Haiti, the tsunami in Japan, Hurricane Sandy and numerous tornadoes in the US, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and the Ebola crisis in West Africa. In addition, Airlink's airline partners have assisted many organizations in addressing ongoing issues in the developing world, such as access to clean water, food, shelter, medical aid, and education. Since 2010, Airlink's airline partners have transported over 3,400 passengers and over 1,000,000 pounds of cargo in support of a broad range of humanitarian missions. Airlink estimates the value of these movements at USD $1,800,000. In September 2014, Airlink Cargo executed flights departing on a regular basis for the three months and delivered medical protective gear and pharmaceuticals to West Africa. Evidently, it is seen that air cargo and logistics extended a great serving to the Ebola hit regions. Recently, a cargo flight with medical equipment, with the help from MIT Humanitarian Response Lab, arrived in Monrovia, Liberia, from Miami which would enable 25 government hospitals to receive infection-control training. Critically, the shipment will help facilities that were partially or fully closed due to the ongoing Ebola crisis to recommence regular operations. The delivery was organized by the Academic Consortium Combatting Ebola in Liberia(ACCEL), a network of academic centers with technical expertise in emergency medicine and logistics systems. “Our team of medical and supply-chain experts with years of fieldwork experience quickly assessed both the health care and logistics capacities in Liberia and planned a rapid response to support service providers on the ground,” says Jarrod Goentzel, founder and director of the MIT Humanitarian Response Lab, a member of ACCEL, in a statement on MIT’s website. The lab is part of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics. On a similar mission to support humanitarian relief, recently, Abu Dhabi-based air freight operator Maximus Air donated the usage of one of its aircraft to support a regional humanitarian campaign launched by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan earlier this month. The campaign, named Tarahuma, received widespread praise from the global community and leaders, including Save the Children. The UN refugee agency UNHCR said that it is currently providing emergency assistance to 660,000 people in temporary camps and shelters, and Maximus CEO Mohammed Al Qassimi explained the motivation behind Maximus’ current involvement in the UAE-led campaign. "We are responding to a call made by His Highness the Head of State for all sectors of society to provide immediate assistance to our brothers in Levant. Our diverse fleet is unique in the region, in both its experience of providing humanitarian assistance, and also in its ability to navigate remote landing strips. Maximus therefore decided to donate an Ilyushin flight that will deliver 45 tonnes of winter clothing and heaters from Sharjah International Airport to Marka Airport in Amman, Jordan.”

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share on Pinterest
  • Share on Blogger