SIA signs up to help WFP’s troubled Covid air cargo network

By Damian Brett

Singapore Airlines (SIA) Cargo has pledged to carry out freighter flights in support of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Covid-19 air cargo network, which is facing a funding shortfall.

The carrier said it would make ad-hoc charter flights and offer freight space in its scheduled services on a cost-recovery basis, with flight costs being covered by a contribution of up to $6.5m from the Temasek Foundation – the philanthropic arm of airline’s state-owned majority shareholder.

However, the future of the WFP’s Covid-19 logistics network is in doubt unless the United Nations organisation can secure more funding.

An estimated $965m is required to sustain WFP’s Common Services on behalf of the humanitarian and health community. To date only 21% of this sum has been received.

WFP’s passenger and cargo flights are likely to grind to a halt at the end of August if no additional support is received, the organisation said.

“While demand for WFP Common Services grows every week, resources are stretched incredibly thin and additional support is urgently needed,” said Amer Daoudi, WFP’s Covid-19 corporate response director.

“We are very grateful to Singapore Airlines and Temasek Foundation for stepping up so we can continue delivering life-saving supplies to those who need them most.”

Chin Yau Seng, senior vice president cargo, SIA, added: “It is a pleasure for SIA to partner with WFP and Temasek Foundation in this meaningful programme.

“This will allow us to draw on our expertise as a global airfreight provider and use our international network to deliver essential supplies to the points of need and help to make a positive impact on the communities that have been directly affected by Covid-19.”

Since the WFP network was launched in May, it has managed more than 800 humanitarian flights to 159 countries.

SIA Cargo has also been transporting medical relief supplies and personal protective equipment to places where they are needed. The Group has also donated items such as blankets and helped to supply meals to communities that have been affected by the pandemic in Singapore and has carried out several repatriation flights.

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