The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reminded the industry of the critical role that aviation plays during times of natural disasters and humanitarian crises.
IATA’s Willie Walsh addressed the subject of the role of aviation during times of crisis when he spoke to industry stakeholders in Istanbul during the IATA World Cargo Symposium.
“When crises strike, aviation is there. Connectivity is essential to get aid and first responders to where they are needed,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
“The response to the recent earthquake in Southern Türkiye 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.”
An estimation of relief efforts
While there is no comprehensive tabulation of the support that aviation provided, a limited review of 29 key carriers serving the Türkiye market reveals an impressive relief effort. During the recent natural disaster, participating airlines:
- Delivered over 3,500 tons of aid from over 90 countries
- Operated over 350 relief and repatriation flights to affected areas
- Provided transport for over 130,000 responders from across the world
Critical supplies delivered included winter jackets, blankets, toilets, hygiene articles, food, fire guards’ equipment, power generators, tents, water distribution ramps, flashlights, sleeping bags, and medical supplies, among other items.
Responding to a crisis – Airlink
Airlink provides a good example of how the aviation sector responds to crises. It is a non-profit organization that coordinates donated airline resources and NGO needs in times of humanitarian disaster.
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.
Resilience of cities and infrastructure are key components of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SGD 9 and 11 respectively). This is tested in times of crisis when air transport’s role is both as an essential infrastructure component in its own right and a vital lifeline for communities.
“Each and every day airlines make an enormous positive contribution to humanity by connecting people, cultures, businesses and economies.”
“This fosters economic growth and social development. When disaster strikes, these links become even more critical. 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,” continued Walsh.
“Airlines have shown exceptional compassion and solidarity, delivering vital supplies and aid to affected communities around the world.”
“During crises, we bring hope, relief, and aid, striving to rebuild lives together. I am proud to be part of an industry that makes such a difference,” he concluded.