Ebola Response: Air Bridge Support
In 2014, in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which is largest outbreak in history and the first in the region, Airlink committed to transporting between 100 and 500 tons of material aid cargo over the course of several flights by year-end. To do so, Airlink will leverage its airline, logistics, and non-profit partnerships. For example, Airlink’s airline partners will provide discounted or donated services, non-profit partners will provide humanitarian expertise and critical cargo, and financial backers will support the remaining costs. As a result, approximately 10,000 aid workers in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea will have access to personal protective equipment, thereby enabling them to safely treat patients.
Airlink commits to transporting between 100 and 500 tons of material aid cargo by air to Western Africa by year-end 2014 through leveraging its airline, logistics, funding sources and nonprofit partners. The actual amount that Airlink will ship will depend on the length of time that an air bridge is called for in Western Africa before slower forms of transportation become sufficient to serve the requirement for material aid.
Airlink’s airline partners will provide discounted or donated services, nonprofit partners will provide humanitarian expertise and critical cargo, and financial backers will fund the significantly reduced costs. Airlink is a 501(c)(3) organization and will not generate any revenue from these flights.
Airlink is a 24/7 disaster response organization that links pre-qualified nonprofits with partner airlines for passenger and cargo transportation. Airlink’s rapid response business model supports the delivery of the right aid to the right people in a timely manner. With a global air transportation network that is constantly expanding as crises and natural disasters continue to occur around the world, Airlink is uniquely positioned to leverage its nonprofit and airline partner network to provide a coordinated approach to consolidating and delivering material aid.
As of September 16, 2014, Airlink has already received offers from or negotiated discounted / bulk capacity rates with a number of airline partners.
Air transportation capacity and logistics support will be provided to qualified NGOs for passengers and cargo to the affected countries.
Airlink will consolidate the first cargo shipment in Chicago by utilizing its logistics by September 21.
Nippon Cargo Airlines will fly the cargo on multiple flights after this consolidation to Hahn, Germany.
Nippon Cargo Airlines will also help truck the consolidated load into Liege, Belgium.
Western Global Airlines will load the cargo on September 29th and fly to Monrovia.
Upon arriving at the destinations in West Africa, each shipment will be processed in concert with the respective Ministry of Health and then released to each donor’s recipient.
The current Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa is the largest Ebola outbreak in history. The virus continues to spread and by many measures is out of control in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Almost 4,000 cases have now been reported and it is broadly agreed by the aid community that many cases are going unreported. The death toll in the Ebola outbreak is expected to reach 10,000 before six months from now, and some estimates believe it will reach 500,000 before it’s over.
Ebola is a severe illness transmitted through direct contact with the blood, body fluids, and tissues of infected animals or people. There is currently no cure or preventive vaccine for Ebola.
The supply chain into Western Africa is constrained due to the cancellation of service by most commercial airlines. Many nonprofit aid organizations would like to ship vital material aid, including personal protective equipment and medicines but are unable to do so. Health care facilities and personnel are therefore unequipped to deal with the unfolding crisis.
Airlink has now coordinated and consolidated the air transportation of 90 separate shipments of critical relief cargo from 35 NGOs in order to tackle the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. In total, 567,330 metric tons of cargo were transported on 30 flights. Nine of these flights landed in West Africa (Liberia, Freetown, and Conakry). Airlink also transported 25 healthcare workers. This success was the result of collaboration between 10 airline partners, ground transportation providers, and funders.
Airlink would like to establish a Disaster Response Fund to respond in a similar manner in future international disasters.
Airlink would also appreciate media and communications support to continue delivering high level services to its partners.
Working with its airline partners, Airlink is able to easily identify support for disaster response activities on partners’ routes.
Airlink offers its NGO partners the ability to drive down the costs associated with air transportation as well as to collaborate with each other on aid delivery.
While in general, it would appear that air transportation is no longer required, Airlink does maintain some capability to send critically needed items as well as to send relief workers via commercial transportation.