The six commercial airlines of the United States of America: United Airlines, American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, Omni Air, and Hawaiian Airlines got the order to provide passenger jets to assist in the evacuation of American and Afghan allies from Kabul. The US President Biden considered the deadline for Afghan evacuation and said that all the evacuated Afghan allies would be guaranteed new homes in the US. The US Military has completed the evacuation of thousands of people since August 14, following the chaotic scene in Kabul after the Taliban took control over Afghanistan.
The six US Airlines provided 18 aircraft;
- United Airlines-4
- American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Omni Air-3
- Hawaiian Airlines-2
The commercial airlines airlifted the evacuees from the Middle East to Europe and finally to the United States. The discussion with the airlines came up with the commencement of service to ferry thousands of Afghans arriving at US bases in the Middle East (Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates).
These US airlines lightened the load on these US bases as they are filled up quickly with the increasing number of daily flights. Embracing the responsibility to augment the military flights carrying Afghans from bases in the Middle East to European stops including Spain, Italy, and finally to the US for the majority, the commercial airlines wouldn’t step into Kabul but used their planes to transport people that have already been ferried from the country to stops in Europe and the Middle East.
United Airlines conducted its first flight on Sunday, August 22, under Civil Reserve Air Fleet from Frankfurt-Hahn Airport to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, utilizing Boeing 777-30t0 having the capacity to accommodate 350 people. Delta Airlines also conducted multiple relief flights with spare aircraft in Germany, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates and returned to the United States. Atlas Air did much to support the evacuation efforts with three aircraft.
The recruitment of 6 major US airlines assisted the transfer of people after their evacuation outside Afghanistan.
What is CRAF?
It is a program developed in the wake of the Berlin airlift post World War II that gives the president emergency power to recruit domestic industries to enhance the military and homeland efforts expended in security. The program utilizes the business airplane to transport evacuees to the US bases in the Middle East for a temporary period where people are processed to resettle in other nations. The settlement number of evacuees in countries like the US, Canada, UK, Germany, etc., have yet remained unclear.
The commercial airlines will get preference in the carriage of commercial peacetime cargo and air passengers for the Department of Defense due to their participation in the evacuation program.
The number of aircraft deployed in the effort to help American citizens and Afghans not only speed up the process but also assures that the allies are out of harm’s way. The commercial flight schedule won’t be affected much for these airlines due to diverting aircraft.
US Military has actively been involved in humanitarian and diplomatic relief missions as the Taliban claimed control of Afghanistan, creating chaos among the people as they scrambled to flee the country. The evacuees were sent to 12 different countries.
What actually happened in Afghanistan?
The Taliban enforced their rules over Kabul after lighting advances across the country, which took just over a week after the US troops withdrew and went back to their own country. Soon after the Taliban dethroned the Western-led government, the desperate Afghans rushed onto the tarmac of Kabul international airport. Several scenes displayed the Afghans clinging onto an American military jet, and several people were reported to have died in the chaos. The US military and other western forces launched evacuation to save their citizens amid desperation and panic.
A frenzied and panic-filled period, where crowds swarmed the tarmac in a desperate attempt to escape, saw some people who fell off the departing planes as they were clinging onto it. Following this, the commercial flights were suspended at Kabul airport, alerting the airlines to avoid Kabul airspace.
Withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan
Today, the last US troop completed the withdrawal from Afghanistan, closing America’s longest war. The war cost the lives of more than 180 Afghan people and 13 US service members, which depicted the colossal failures and unfulfilled promises. The last plane carrying Americans took off from Kabul airport, reflecting the completion of evacuation and the war effort.