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Alaska Airlines Supports Afghanistan Evacuation With Domestic Flights

While much of the world’s attention on Afghanistan has been around the military flights leaving Kabul, the mission stretches across the seas into the United States. To support the domestic side of operations, Alaska Airlines has joined several other airlines in assisting the Afghanistan evacuation with charter flights on behalf of the US government.

Alaska B737
Alaska Airlines is providing its aircraft to support the US humanitarian mission by running charter flights. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Alaska Airlines joins the mission

The biggest humanitarian mission in aviation this month has been the evacuation from Afghanistan. After the country’s rapid fall to the Taliban, foreign military personnel and their allies have made desperate attempts to exit the country. The United States has also been working hard to grant visas to its allies and vet the civilians seeking refuge in the United States.

Alaska Airlines is now running charters on behalf of the US government. All of Alaska’s charter flights are domestic. The airline released the following statement on the mission:

“We are proud to support our military service members and grateful to all our employees who have served our country around the world, many of whom have reached out to offer their assistance during this time of need. Our values drive us to do the right thing and be kind-hearted, and we will bring this same sense of service to these operations and those we welcome on board as our guests.”

Alaska A320
Alaska Airlines is only doing domestic flights to support the evacuation from Afghanistan. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Domestic support of the evacuation

The evacuation has proven to be incredibly complex. First, military aircraft fly people out of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, to bases in the Middle East and Europe. The evacuees are only at those bases temporarily. From there, those who are cleared to come to the US, including civilian US citizens, their families, and military personnel, arrive at a gateway in the United States.

Once in the United States, people have to be moved around. Airlines like Alaska are running domestic charters to help reunite families and relieve the pressure on the bases in Europe and the Middle East.

There has been a lot of attention on Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), where airlines like United, Delta, and American bring evacuees from bases abroad. Foreign airlines are also assisting in the evacuation.

Alaska A321
Alaska Airlines will help reposition arrivals in the US. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Separate from the CRAF mission

Alaska’s missions are separate from the aircraft activated under the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF). As a reminder, the Department of Defense (DOD) activated 18 widebody aircraft, including planes from American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, and United Airlines, to support the international evacuations.

There is an incentive for airlines to support the evacuation. First, the US government pays for the missions, which can be more money than some of the routes currently running. Given that the travel environment is still depressed from a high-yield business traveler standpoint and recent impacts from the rise of the Delta variant, being a part of the mission can certainly help an airline’s bottom line.

Alaska MAX
Alaska Airlines does not have any widebodies to help the US government run long-haul international charters. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

This is not the first humanitarian mission Alaska Airlines is a part of. In its early days, it was a part of the Berlin Airlift in 1948 and Operation Magic Carpet, when Alaska Airlines helped airlift thousands of Yemenite Jews to Israel in 1949.

Are you glad to see Alaska Airlines support the humanitarian mission? Let us know in the comments!

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