Even as yet another major cyclone – the Category 5-level Hurricane Maria – plows through the Caribbean region today, cargo groups and nonprofits are scrambling to provide food, medicine and other relief supplies to help the islands recover from the last major storm, Hurricane Irma.
Disaster relief charities Airlink, LIFT, Patient Airlift Services (PALS) and Rescue Global have teamed up to deliver humanitarian aid to those in a partnership called “Operation Airlift Irma,” which is working with commercial air carriers to deliver food, medical supplies, emergency shelter and equipment providing access to clean water, sanitation, electricity and telecommunications.
The two-stage “air bridge” first transports emergency supplies between the mainland U.S. and staging areas in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the island of St. Kitts. From there, smaller aircraft will carry the supplies to several islands.
While the operation’s needs-based model will use on-the-ground assessments to determine the final destinations of the cargo, Airlink said Anguilla, Barbuda, Sint-Maarten, and Turks and Caicos are among the islands being targeted for assistance.
The presence of Hurricane Maria is adding a greater sense of urgency for aid organizations responding to what is already a significant humanitarian crisis. Forecasters expect Hurricane Maria, now an extremely dangerous Category 5 storm, to cause more widespread destruction as it moves through the Caribbean, with the already damaged U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico directly in its path.
Also, Antonov Airlines yesterday delivered portable generators for EDF Group to the hurricane-stricken island of Guadeloupe on one of its seven An-124-100 aircraft (see photo above). The emergency consignment of 32 EDF Group generators was recently moved from Châteauroux, France, to Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, in less than 24 hours.
The generators, which weighed a total of 105 tonnes, are needed to provide electricity to France’s Overseas Region of Guadeloupe and Overseas Collectivity of Saint Martin, both of which were severely affected by Hurricane Irma.
“The aircraft was in Cairns, Australia at the time the charter was confirmed, which meant we had to respond promptly to move it halfway around the world,” said Antonov’s Paul Furlonger. “The An-124-100s’ unique onboard crane system, which has a lift capacity of 30 tonnes, allowed for a safe loading and unloading process, without the need for a special ground infrastructure at the airport.”
Yesterday’s mission was the first in a series of Antonov Airlines flights that will deliver humanitarian and relief cargo to the Caribbean from the governments of France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, Furlonger said.
U.K.-based CargoLogicAir also has operated two relief-supply flights, carrying nearly 200 tonnes of humanitarian goods to hurricane-affected areas.
Both of the flights were operated by the carrier’s 747-400F (see photo above) on behalf of the French Government. The first flight took place on Sept. 13 — just 48 hours after the initial inquiry was received — from Vatry to Pointe-à-Pitre Le Raizet Airport, in Guadeloupe. The second flight followed on Sept. 16.
“We may still be a relatively new name in the world of aviation but our highly experienced team of air logistics professionals have many years’ expertise in the airline industry, including providing a fast response to such situations where humanitarian relief is urgently needed,” said Dmitry Grishin, CEO of CargoLogicAir. “We anticipate operating several more flights in the coming days.”
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