The Department of Defense on Sunday ordered U.S. commercial airlines to provide Afghanistan evacuations for at-risk individuals, special immigrant visa applicants, U.S. citizens and personnel.
It is the third deployment of commercial airliner by military personnel for aid. The first was for Operation Desert Shield/Storm, in the early 90s. Second, for Operation Iraqi Freedom, in 2002-2003.
The order comes from the Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and will include the use of 18 aircraft from various airlines including four from United, three each from American, Delta, Omni Air, and two from Hawaiian Airlines.
To augment its airlift capability, the Pentagon utilizes the so-called Civil Reserve Air Fleet as an emergency preparation method. According to the Pentagon, these 18 aircraft won’t fly into Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport.
The Pentagon stated that they will be used to facilitate the movement of passengers between temporary safe havens or interim staging bases. It allows for more passenger movement than organic capabilities and allows military aircrafts to concentrate on their operations in Kabul. “
United stated that four of their 777-300 aircraft were activated. They are still reviewing the operational impact, but they expect it to be minimal.
A spokesperson for United stated that “As an international airline and flag carrier of our country, it is our responsibility to respond quickly to international challenges and to use our expertise in order to ensure safe passage to our fellow countrymen as well as to those who have sacrificed their lives to keep them safe.”
American Airlines stated that it is working hard to ensure its operations run smoothly. American Airlines will minimize any impact on customers while the aircraft are temporarily removed from its operation. As it works to accommodate passengers, the airline thanks customers for their patience.
On Friday, the Biden administration issued a warning order to airlines that they may be called into action under the Civil Relief Air Fleet.
UPDATE: The story has been updated with comments from American Airlines.
Publiated at Sun, 22 August 2021 15:32.26 +0000