When Typhoon Haiyan hit the central Philippine islands in November 2013, almost 13 million people’s lives were changed overnight. Vast quantities of emergency supplies were urgently needed in locations which were cut off from land links or scattered across some of the country’s 7,100 islands.
Some things only aviation can do. The United Nations maintains a network of Humanitarian Response Depots with a global hub at Dubai International Airport and regional hubs around the world, including Subang in Malaysia. Within a few days, more than 1,000 tonnes of relief and support supplies – tents, kits for newborn babies, hygiene kits and mobile storage units – had been flown to the Philippines by the World Food Programme from Dubai, Malaysia and Italy.
Meanwhile the global aviation community also moved quickly to support the relief effort.
Japan Airlines made an immediate $100,000 donation and provided free transport of relief goods and aid personnel from Japan to Philippines. Air Asia too provided free flights for relief workers. FedEx flew tonnes of supplies on its freighter aircraft. British Airways sent a 747 full of aid to the area. United Airlines set up a partnership with AmeriCares, American Red Cross and Operation USA, offering an immediate donation and a one-time mileage bonus to airline customers who donated to the relief.
The Airbus Corporate Foundation organised a series of relief flights from Toulouse. One of these, a mission with Philippine Airlines, used the delivery flight of the airline’s new aircraft, loaded with 19 tonnes of water sanitation equipment and food from Action Contre la Faim. After the hurricane, Philippines Airlines partnered with Boeing and World Vision to ferry 18 tonnes of tarpaulins and rope on a 777-300ER delivery flight from Seattle.