When there’s a humanitarian disaster, aviation has a key role to play but how is a fast response co-ordinated? We talked to Airlink, a humanitarian relief organisation that links airlines with non-profits.

Airlink’s network includes over 40 commercial and charter airlines and over 80 international non-profits.

Since its inception in 2010, Airlink has worked with its airline partners to respond to a number of rapid-onset disasters, including the earthquake in Haiti, the tsunami in Japan, Hurricane Sandy and numerous tornadoes in the US, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

In addition, Airlink’s airline partners have assisted many organisations in addressing ongoing issues in the developing world, such as access to clean water, food, shelter, medical aid and education.

Airlink and its airline partners have transported more than 4,000 passengers and more than 3 million pounds of cargo.

Aviation’s unique role

Sandra Walter, Director of Development, Airlink, said: “It is really amazing to see the industry come together through Airlink in order to provide support for NGOs around the world whenever there’s a disaster.

“Airlink’s role is to pull together all the partners across the world and match them with the NGOs where they’re needed, based on the routes and the interest, and then make sure that we can get free flights for cargo and passengers, for NGOs and the supplies that they have to get into help people in disasters around the world.”

“Aviation plays a unique role in humanitarian relief because when minutes count in people’s lives, aviation is the way to go.”

By Sandra Walter, Airlink

She added: “The airlines really have been amazing. Airlink has been around since the Haiti earthquake in 2010, founded by the ISTAT Foundation. It’s now out on its own after all these years and eight years later we’ve been able to secure more than $7 million in free flight and cargo support from the industry.”

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