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Which Airlines Are Evacuating People From Afghanistan?

As people in Afghanistan scramble to Kabul Airport in a desperate attempt to escape the government takeover of the Taliban, several countries around the world have come together to form a rescue program for the refugees stranded in the unstable country. Countries around the world have chartered aircraft from an array of different airlines to bring evacuated people from Afghanistan to another country for safety. Today in this article, we will explore which airlines have selected to complete this mission.


National Air Forces

Since the chartered commercial airlines will not be travelling directly to Kabul Airport to evacuate the Afghans, there has to be a first step in retrieving the people from Afghanistan. Air Forces from the United States, Germany, and other countries involved in the Afghanistan war have sent military planes, such as the C-17, to Kabul in order to withdraw troops and evacuate Afghans to nearby countries. These military planes have carried more than 100 thousand Afghans to Germany, Qatar, Tukey, and other countries close to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan: 3rd evacuation flight takes off from Kabul with 85 Indians on  board
Credit: Mint

One of these C17s impressively carried over 800 people on one evacuation trip, almost the capacity of an Airbus A380. Unfortunately, some people died in the process of trying to get aboard the flights.


Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF)

After these refugees are transported to neighboring countries, the chartered airliners come into play for the 2nd part of the rescue process. These aircraft bring the stationed Afghans to a 3rd country for a temporary stay or safety. For this, the United States has reactivated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF), an airlift program that consists of the participation of several U.S. airlines. The program was last active during the Invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Civil Reserve Air Fleet for the Afghanistan rescue consists of aircraft from:

  • American Airlines -3 aircraft
  • Atlas Air – 3 aircraft
  • Delta Airlines – 3 aircraft
  • Omni Air – 3 aircraft
  • Hawaiian Airlines – 2 aircraft
  • United Airlines – 4 aircraft

The fleet includes a total 18 aircraft, and the airlines have said that the impact of the absence of these aircraft will be minimal to none.

US DoD Activates Civil Reserve Air Fleet | Joint Forces News
Credit: Joint Forces

Along with these U.S. airlines, the United States Department of Transportation has also recruited a number of foreign airlines to transport refugees into the United States, since it is easier for a country’s national airline to transport refugees directly to the U.S. or a third country than it is for one of the 18 U.S. aircraft to fly out and retrieve the people. These airlines don’t need to have permission for regular U.S. commercial flights to participate in the rescue flights. These foreign evacuation airlines include:

  • Gulf Air
  • Kuwait Airways
  • Lufthansa
  • Air India
  • Iberia Airlines
Air India flight with 78 people evacuated from Afghanistan lands in Delhi |  Latest News India - Hindustan Times
Credit: Hindustan Times


With these airline additions, there are at least 11 commercial airlines operating flights to help people from Afghanistan. These airlines are doing something different from their normal industry flights to help settle refugees fleeing Afghanistan. It is an inspiring story to see how airlines across the world are teaming up to help such a cause.







Cover Image: Fox News


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