Commentary: The Untold Story Of Disaster Response And The Unsung Heroes

Routes’ charity partner is Airlink, a global humanitarian organization delivering critical aid to communities in crisis.

Credit: Mehmet Taylan/Alamy Stock Photo

Routes’ charity partner is Airlink, a global humanitarian organization delivering critical aid to communities in crisis. Airlink director of development Sandra Walter explains more.

Let me start with a question; did you know you’re an unsung hero? While this will be the first year Airlink has attended Routes World, it is far from our first time working with the fantastic leaders in the airport and airline sectors.

Airlink is a global humanitarian organization that provides free flights and solutions to logistical challenges faced in the wake of natural and man-made disasters. We do this for a network of over 130 of our non-profit relief partners. With supply chain management costing 73% of any humanitarian program’s budget, the air transport and coordinating costs Airlink saves our non-governmental organization (NGO) partners means they can utilize their budget to reach more people through more programs.

We provide our partners support during both rapid response in the immediate aftermath of disasters and through long-term recovery programs. Airlink can only do this because of the generosity of airlines and donors from across the aviation industry.

Thanks to our airline partners, we have been trusted with coordinating an estimated +$5 million in donated airlift this year, ensuring free air transport to our network of disaster response non-profit organizations so they can provide humanitarian aid and services to communities in crisis across the globe. In 2021 alone, Airlink helped over 7.8 million people in 38 countries by moving 767,000 lbs of supplies on behalf of 56 NGOs.

So, while you may not know us, you and your teams are “Airlinked” to the pallets of relief supplies and skilled responders on your planes and coming through your airports on any given day. Right now, Airlink is sending humanitarian aid and responders to the people of Ukraine; to Puerto Rico, Canada, and across the US in response to Hurricanes Fiona and Ian; to the communities across the Horn of Africa to tackle famine; and Sub-Saharan Africa to help with COVID-19 recovery and strengthen local health systems; to Lebanon, Tonga, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to help people in need after recent crises.

That list is illustrative, not exhaustive. Here’s a snapshot of just one response: Since February 2022 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Airlink and our airline, NGO, and aviation industry supporters have sent almost 600 tons of aid and over 500 responders to Ukraine and the surrounding countries. That support has directly helped over 3.7 million people in and around Ukraine.

In every disaster, there are unsung heroes in the people who keep the planes flying and the cargo moving, who take care of teams of responders volunteering to help and ensure they come home safe and sound. Whether aviation is your passion or your profession, whether you put planes in the air or manage their logistics on the ground, consider getting “Airlinked” and adding your name to those of industry leaders proud of what we do for the world.

The Airlink team is grateful and proud to be a part of the aviation family. Opportunities abound for companies like yours and the generous industry leaders who become Airlink champions and supporters by donating, raising visibility for what our industry does, hosting fundraisers, and gifting in-kind services. We are thrilled to be with you in Las Vegas, and we hope you will come and visit the Airlink booth so we can share with you how YOU can help people today in a way that reflects your business, your values, and goals for ESG and CSR, and community impact. 

Sandra Walter is the director of development for Airlink and is representing Airlink at this year’s conference, along with her colleague Lauren Makely. You can meet both Sandra and Lauren at the Airlink booth.