The Airbus Foundation, the International Foundation for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Airlink have this week called on the world’s airlines to take advantage of the unique partnerships they have to help carry out vital goodwill flights to reduce human suffering and help people in need globally.
A number of the world’s leading commercial airlines including Emirates, JetBlue, South African Airways, Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines are active participants in the Airbus Foundation programme that has delivered over 250 tonnes of much-needed humanitarian relief in almost 30 good will flights to some of the world’s most famine and disaster-hit regions including Nepal, Columbia, Thailand, Turkey, South Africa and Haiti.
The idea behind the Foundation programme is to use an otherwise empty, brand new aircraft that is being delivered to the customer to carry out charitable missions en-route to the airline base and deliver e.g. vital medical supplies, water filtration and sanitation equipment as well as clothes, toys and shoes to children. Airbus Foundation works with several Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) which supply aid and emergency goods for transportation. Some of the most iconic Airbus civil aircraft including the A380, A320, A330 and A350 XWB have been used in the humanitarian flights.
The Airbus Foundation, which is the charitable arm of the Airbus Group, is now keen to build on the goodwill demonstrated by its airline customers and is attempting to galvanise support for future missions. The Foundation and the IFRC will be giving a briefing of their work at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General meeting in Dublin (June 1-3) alongside Airlink.
Airlink is a non-profit organisation that links airlines with humanitarian aid groups to fill cargo holds with aid goods and send first responders to disasters. Since its inception in 2010, Airlink has partnered with more than 30 major airlines and 60 non-profit organizations to deliver more than 2.5 million pounds of aid and 3,500 disaster workers in dozens of Missions around the globe.
The IATA AGM is the world’s largest gathering of commercial airlines, with some 260 members, responsible for 83 per cent of air traffic. Standing side-by-side with the IFRC and Airlink, the Airbus Foundation will appeal directly to some of world’s major airlines to become involved in future activities.
“Together with the IFRC, NGO partners and some of our airline customers, we have already made a significant difference to the lives of some of the most poverty-stricken people across the world – delivering millions of euros worth of aid,” said Andrea Debbane, Executive Director of the Airbus Foundation.
“We are now appealing to our customers of other major airlines to support future efforts and help demonstrate that aviation can be a real force for good.”
The rallying cry comes at a time when leading Non-government organisations including the IFRC and the UN have raised concerns about the lack of funding for humanitarian relief.
A UN report in February said that at least $40 billion in humanitarian aid is needed each year to help victims of armed conflicts and natural disasters. There is currently a shortfall of $15 billion a year creating an alarming global humanitarian gap.
The Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Elhadj As Sy, said at the conclusion of the World Humanitarian Summit on 25 May
“We have engaged in the World Humanitarian Summit as a strong advocate on behalf of local communities and affected people. We must recognize, with humility, that our current responses do not match the scale and magnitude of the challenges we face. We are committed to do more and better.”
The Airbus Foundation represents the only commercial aerospace organisation to be working in partnership with the IFRC. The work began in 2009 with a memorandum of understanding signed in 2015. The new agreement strengthened the existing co-operation by also including provision of the use of its defence aircraft including the A400M and rotorcraft from Airbus Helicopters. The agreement also included the facilitation of the use of space imagery, communications and mobile solutions.
Since its launch in December 2008, the Airbus Foundation has facilitated nearly 50 humanitarian flights in total – including relief flights with Airbus-owned test aircraft – to numerous destinations around the globe.
“The time for airlines to act is now, even before a disaster strikes. The level of need is great and growing. Together, we all have a responsibility to help reduce human suffering and save lives,” said Airlink Executive Director Steven Smith. “The aviation sector can make a real difference by moving the right resources quickly and efficiently.”