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  May 26th, 2024 | Written by

Airlink Highlights Critical Role of Logistics in Meeting Humanitarian Needs

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Air carriers and logistics specialists are increasingly vital in addressing the rising demand for humanitarian emergency response, according to Airlink, an international aid organization. The growing frequency of global conflicts and climate change-induced disasters has amplified the need for efficient humanitarian aid delivery.

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Data from Airlink shows that approximately 73% of an aid program’s costs are tied to supply chain management, including transport logistics. “Humanitarian logistics is often a blind spot, even within the logistics and humanitarian sectors,” said Steve Smith, CEO of Airlink. Many small NGOs lack the budgets and logistical expertise needed to manage the transport of donated aid, resulting in unbudgeted costs that Airlink helps cover through its network of donor airlines, freight forwarders, and financial contributors.

The pandemic and the Ukraine war have fundamentally transformed Airlink’s operational model, shifting its focus from moving responders to prioritizing cargo transport for NGO partners. Last year, Airlink facilitated aid deliveries to crisis zones including Haiti, Sudan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Tigray, and Iraq, leveraging partnerships with major airlines and freight forwarders.

Currently, Airlink is responding to the severe floods in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul state, despite limitations due to the lack of an international assistance call from the Brazilian government. Airlink has provided flights for humanitarian aid non-profit Cadena and is coordinating shipments for six other NGOs to meet immediate needs such as medical supplies, clean water, sanitation, hygiene, and shelter.

In response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Airlink transported four “hospitainers”—mobile hospitals designed for disaster zones—from the Netherlands to Egypt for the International Medical Corps. Accessibility issues in regions like Afghanistan are addressed by flying aid to the nearest entry point and trucking it to the final destination. Financial support from corporate donors enables Airlink to arrange charter flights, filling connectivity gaps for its partners.

Beyond airlines and logistics firms, Airlink collaborates with diverse organizations for additional support. For instance, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP provides pro-bono legal work, and American Express Global Business Travel is developing a flight management system for responders. Key cash donors include ACI Europe, BOC Aviation, ISTAT, Alton Aviation, and SMBC Capital.

Smith emphasizes that every business can contribute to humanitarian efforts, whether through in-kind support or integrating Airlink into their corporate giving programs. “The need for humanitarian aid is growing globally, and every player in the logistics, cargo, and aviation sectors can make a significant impact. Airlink’s mission is to facilitate this involvement as seamlessly and effectively as possible,” he stated.