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Legacy Carriers Add Help to Afghanistan Evacuation Operation

Four U.S.-based airlines will offer aircraft to help civilians evacuate from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, Omni Air, Hawaiian Airlines and United Airlines will all operate flights from safe haven and interim staging airports to other parts of the world.

Twelve commercial aircraft from four commercial airlines will be called upon to help Afghan refugees escape the Taliban-controlled country, without flying into the war-torn country. The U.S. Department of Defense has activated Stage I of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, which will utilize passenger and cargo aircraft from six different U.S.-based carriers.

American, Delta and United All Send Aircraft to Help Evacuation Efforts

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) was established in 1952 after the Berlin Airlift to establish a protocol for civilian aircraft to come to the military’s aid. While the aircraft will retain their civil status and not join the military fleet, the Air Mobility Command will take control of their operations.

Under the Stage I plan, 18 aircraft from six airlines will be used to facilitate the evacuation of civilians out of Afghanistan. Among the passenger carriers, United Airlines will commit the most aircraft, offering four for the operation. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines will each send three to the mission, while Hawaiian Airlines will send two aircraft. Neither the airlines nor the Department of Defense said which type of aircraft will be used, nor the routes they would be flying.

The commercial airframes will not be put directly in harm’s way, as they will not be sent to Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport (KBL) to directly evacuate individuals. Instead, the aircraft will be used to move civilians from “temporary safe havens and interim staging bases” onward. The Department of Defense notes they do not anticipate “a major impact to commercial flights form this activation.”

This incident marks the third time the CRAF has been activated. The previous two times were in support of conflicts in the Middle East: Operation Desert Shield in 1991 and Operation Iraqi Freedom, which ran from 2003 to 2011.

Civil Reserve Air Fleet Evacuation Comes as Chaos Continues in Afghanistan

While commercial aircraft will help to move refugees out of Afghanistan, issues remain in helping them get into the air to begin with. All other commercial aircraft have been advised to avoid Hamid Karzai International Airport because of a lack of air traffic control services, and CNN reports the Taliban has given the United States a deadline of August 31 to leave the nation.

Feature Image Courtesy: Carl Montgomery/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

windoworaisle August 24, 2021

Actually LOT Polish is flying scheduled rescue flights NVI-TBS-WAW from 18Aug almost every day. NVI has a 4km concrete runway.