Life support

IAG Cargo joins survival air cargo mission in Ukraine

THE sickening humanitarian crisis continues to deteriorate in Ukraine – “with more than 18 million people already affected or displaced by the invasion” – is the latest grim report from the World Health Organization (WHO).

More than three million refugees have now left the beleaguered country for surrounding neighboring states, more than 60% of whom are now in Poland. It is estimated that the global diaspora could reach four million people by July, he warns.

At the same time, some 1.9 million people are currently internally displaced within Ukraine and this large-scale displacement with the resulting collateral damage to agricultural production and infrastructure, disruption of markets and food supply chains is likely to have significant – short-term – and long-term impacts – particularly on food security and agriculture-based livelihoods. Ukraine’s rural communities are home to some 12.6 million people, or a third of the total population, the report said.

Many airlines and freight forwarders around the world have joined the fight for humanitarian aid. IAG Cargo is among those currently managing the complexities of transporting humanitarian aid shipments to help Ukrainians in their struggle to survive the Russian invasion, writes Thelma Etim. The air cargo division of International Airlines Group (IAG) has already transported some 125 tonnes of cargo, including blankets, bedding, cooking equipment, tents and medical items.

The most recent shipment saw IAG Cargo partner with Project HOPE, a US-based global health and humanitarian organization, and air cargo broker Priority Worldwide. They delivered eight tonnes of medical aid from Boston to Ukraine via London Heathrow Airport, using a British Airways A380 passenger plane.

IAG Cargo’s first aid shipment to Ukraine took place from Barcelona to Warsaw on March 4. It was carrying donations from colleagues at sister airline Vueling. Since then, IAG Cargo has transported additional humanitarian supplies for the Spanish Red Cross and SEPLA Ayuda on Iberia’s A332 and A350 passenger aircraft from its hub in Madrid, Spain to Budapest, Hungary. These flights carried blankets, bedding, cooking equipment and tents.

Chris Skopec, executive vice president of global health programs at Project HOPE, appreciates the support the European airline group is providing in getting desperately needed medical supplies. “The coordination of these expeditions is more difficult than many [people] achieve, but it has been really encouraging to see individuals, organizations and companies [such as IAG] come together in service to help those in need.

David Shepherd, Managing Director of IAG’s Air Cargo Division, said, “Our industry has always played a key role in the rapid response that humanitarian crises demand. At IAG Cargo, we use our global network and ability to transport aid for Ukraine. I appreciate everything our people have done to support this effort.

The carrier, which also works with a number of global charities to transport aid to Ukraine, is well trained to respond quickly to crises around the world, including shipping tons of urgently needed medical supplies such as life-saving oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, respirators, blood oxygen saturation monitors and humanitarian aid packages for those in need in India in May last year as he struggled against the increase in COVID-19 cases.

Then there was the 20 tons of aid to Haiti following the devastating earthquake of August 2021 which killed thousands of people there. The carrier has also worked directly with the UK government to transport shelter kits and solar-powered lanterns for up to 1,300 families.

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