World Food Program says COVID air network could fold soon

White Singapaore Airlines jetliner with blue tail lifts off from runway with airport control tower in background. Singapore Airlines is helping the World Food Program.

The World Food Program (WFP) says its air logistics support for humanitarian groups fighting the COVID-19 pandemic is running out of money.

The United Nations organization has managed more than 800 aid flights to 161 countries since May, when it established eight humanitarian response hubs and air links among them dedicated to pandemic response. Cargo volumes dispatched have been rising each month and total 44,654 cubic meters, according to an Aug. 11 situation report.

Enough cargo to fill 188 jumbo jets will need transport in the coming weeks, but only 21% of the $965 million required to sustain its logistics network has been donated so far, according to the World Food Program. 

“WFP’s passenger and cargo flights are likely to grind to a halt at the end of August if no additional support is received,” it said in a news release last week.

Among WFP’s corporate benefactors is Singapore Airlines, which is transporting essential medical supplies and other health-related items to those in need around the world. It is also operating repatriation flights.

Under its partnership agreement with the WFP, Singapore Airlines is making ad hoc charter flights and freight space in its scheduled services available on a cost-recovery basis, with flight costs being covered by a $6.5 million contribution from the Temasek Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Singapore state sovereign fund.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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