To date this year, Airlink, a rapid-response humanitarian relief organization that links airlines with prequalified nonprofit organizations, has delivered just over US$1 million of donated lift, in support of 200 aid workers and 185,000 pounds of aid. The organization has supported eight major disasters so far this year, including flooding in Malawi, the Syrian refugee crisis and the Ebola outbreak.
At the Cargo Facts Symposium, held last week in Miami, Airlink said it has formed a partnership to improve disaster response as part of a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action, called “Help is on the Way.” The aim is to build a global disaster response network of airlines, NGOs and other donors dedicated to improving the process of disaster response.
Bob Brown, president of Airlink, speaking at the Cargo Facts Symposium, said it has become unrealistic for Airlink to depend on donated lift 100 percent of the time, so the group hopes to raise $3 million in either funds or donated lift through Help is on the Way. The Paul G. Allen Foundation has given Airlift a generous grant, and airlines participating in the partnership include Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Brussels Airlines, so far. However, additional financial contributions are needed for times when airlines are unable to donate services due to lack of capacity or other restrictions.
“Ebola was a turning point” for Airlink Brown said. Since most scheduled airlines had ceased travel to Ebola-stricken countries during the 2014-15 crisis, Airlink received a great deal of notoriety as the only organization that would fly to West Africa. With help from the Clinton Global Initiative, Airlink delivered about 100 tonnes of aid to the area.
Airlink has paid $2.7 million for global disaster response since its inception in 2010, but it still relies on the goodwill of airlines to help when possible. The organization has also flown approximately 3,700 passengers and transported more that 1,400 tonnes of cargo since 2010. To contribute to the Help is on the Way initiative, visit airlinkflight.org or call 1-202-573-8686.