The recent devastating earthquake in Turkey underlined how airlines work together to provide vital life-saving relief, the IATA World Cargo Symposium was told this week.
Willie Walsh, director general of the global aviation body, told the annual event that aviation plays a crucial role when natural disasters strike.
Official figures are not kept, but a ‘limited review’ of 29 carriers that serve Turkey and that responded to the humanitarian relief effort found that over 3,500 tonnes of aid was delivered from over 90 countries.
Critical supplies delivered included winter jackets, blankets, toilets, hygiene articles, food, fire guards’ equipment, power generators, tents, water distribution ramps, flashlights, sleeping bags, and medical supplies.
In total airlines operated over 350 relief and repatriation flights to affected areas in southern Turkey and northern Syria and provided transport for over 130,000 responders from across the world.
A total of 59,259 people were confirmed to have died due to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck on February 6 making it the deadliest natural disaster in Turkey’s modern history.
IATA highlighted the not-for-profit organisation Airlink as a prime example of how the sector works together in response to humanitarian crises.
Working with NGO and airline partners, Airlink coordinated the transport of 1,000 tonnes of aid supplies to the affected area, with an additional pipeline of 300 tonnes.
Wash added: “Each and every day airlines make an enormous positive contribution to humanity by connecting people, cultures, businesses and economies.
“This fosters economic growth and social development. When disaster strikes, these links become even more critical. Everyone in aviation can be proud of the essential supplies, critical talent and hope that planes carry to disaster affected areas.
“With that in mind, we encourage all our stakeholders to join us in ensuring that aviation can fulfil this role by becoming ever more safe, secure, reliable and sustainable.
“Airlines have shown exceptional compassion and solidarity, delivering vital supplies and aid to affected communities around the world.
“During crises, we bring hope, relief, and aid, striving to rebuild lives together. I am proud to be part of an industry that makes such a difference.”