IATA WCS highlights humanitarian role of airfreight

Willie Walsh, IATA director general

“When crises strike, aviation is there,” said IATA director general Willie Walsh, speaking at the IATA World Cargo Symposium in Istanbul on 25 April.

Reminding delegates of the critical role that aviation plays when natural disasters and other humanitarian crises occur, he went on: “Connectivity is essential to get aid and first responders to where they are needed. The response to the recent earthquake in Southern Turkey and Syria was no exception. Airlines helped save lives in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. And airlines continue to help accelerate the recovery with vital cargo shipments.”

Based on a review of 29 key carriers serving the Turkish market, IATA estimated that these airlines delivered over 3,500 tons of aid – including jackets, blankets, toilets, food, power generators, tents, medical supplies and man other items – from over 90 countries in the wake of the earthquake, as well as operating over 350 relief and repatriation flights and providing transport for more than 130,000 responders from across the world.

The association pointed to US-based non-profit organisation Airlink, which coordinates donated airline resources with NGO needs, as an example of how the aviation sector responds to crises.

“Working with its NGO and airline partners, Airlink has coordinated the transport of 1,000 tons of aid supplies to the affected area, with an additional pipeline of 300 tons,” IATA said. Airlink lists partner airlines for the Turkey-Syria earthquake relief effort as Turkish Airlines, United Airlines, and American Airlines.

Walsh pointed out that airlines make “an enormous positive contribution to humanity by connecting people, cultures, businesses and economies” every day, fostering economic growth and social development as a result.

“When disaster strikes, these links become even more critical,” he said. “Everyone in aviation can be proud of the essential supplies, critical talent and hope that planes carry to disaster affected areas. With that in mind, we encourage all our stakeholders to join us in ensuring that aviation can fulfil this role by becoming ever more safe, secure, reliable and sustainable.”

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