Ever wondered how the aviation sector helps during a crisis? Hear from the unsung heroes at Airlink

Updated: May 20, 2020

Airlink is a non-profit rapid-response disaster relief organization, originally formed out of the ISTAT Foundation. We partner with the various airline and aviation logistic companies to provide non-profit disaster and humanitarian relief. We help them by reducing the time and administration effort dramatically by getting things around to places quickly. Time is key when you are dealing with a natural disaster, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. 

Airlink launched its first response in 2010 when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  Airlink joined forces with global NGOs and commercial and private aviation to coordinate the movement of more than 2,000 doctors and nurses and more than 40 shipments of aid totaling over 500,000 lbs.

Image: Andrew Williams
Image: Andrew Williams

I am Andrew Williams, Director of Communications at Airlink. I was born and raised in the UK, now living in Washington D.C with my family.

Airlink has been working for 10 years. In the past, we have worked with British Airways to send volunteers to Australia to help ease the bush fire. Last year alone we were engaged in 28 humanitarian operations, and we helped 44 NGOs by transporting 1200 volunteers and 193,000 lbs of supplies and by saving the NGOs about $1.4M USD.

Currently, during COVID19, a lot of organizations, such as non-profits, hospitals, employers, and youth groups, are desperately trying to find PPE. Everybody is competing for supplies from china, creating cost pressures. Additionally, commercial airlines are shut. Hence, freight rates have skyrocketed. Cost is a huge challenge for non-profits and other organizations, but our alliance with many airline partners helps eliminate such problems. Since we raise money, both cash and in-kind donation from the aviation sector, we can airlift for free or at a substantially reduced rate, saving a lot of money for the non-profits for them to focus on supply and service delivery.

The aviation sector is one of the most generous sectors. They are always ready to help in good and bad times. You have seen them grounding planes, laying off the staff, and borrowing loans, but they are still willing to help us and our non-profit partners by providing us space. We are working on a big shipment with United Airlines. Despite the Air Cargo rates dramatically shooting up, they are giving us free space. Thus, we are able to transport the PPE at the lowest costs. To date, we have transported about 420,000 pieces of PPE, 40 tons in total, and another 100 tons of PPE in the pipeline.

When we had just started to hear about COVID19 during Christmas 2019, a lot of crew members and passengers were quarantined on the Cruise Ship near Japan, we immediately started working with United Airlines and World Central Kitchen to supply food and meals to them. There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. We all tend to see just the end product, but there are a lot of unsung heroes who are working tirelessly.

What makes the COVID19 crisis unique is that NGOs and organizations that are helping to mitigate the impact are affected by it too. This was never the case before with any other crisis. Whereas this time the entire world is impacted at once. Moreover, we are not stopping here. Atlantic hurricanes season will approach soon, so we are ensuring that we are prepared for the same in advance. 

All in all, I would like to thank our partners. Their extraordinary willingness to help even in this crisis when they have their share of worries and concerns is commendable.”

You Humanity pays respect and gratitude to Airlink Organization and Aviation Sector for going above and beyond to contribute towards Humanity.

If you know someone who is working for others, please share the story https://www.youhumanity.com/share-your-story

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