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5 things to consider when operating aid flights

Air Partner Freight - 08 Jan 2018

Natural disasters. Medical emergencies. Political unrest. What is clear in these situations is that humanitarian aid, disaster relief or essential supplies are required urgently. However when these events happen in crisis regions or developing countries with poor infrastructure or non-existent Government support, time is of the essence.

While speed of response is critical, so is reliability. Each minute food, aid, medical supplies, emergency equipment or specialist personnel like doctors and engineers are delayed, lives are at risk. Having organized aid and relief charter flights into crisis regions for many years, we know the intense time pressures our clients are under.

It is vital to choose an experienced cargo charter company to work with. One with highly practiced procedures and teams that can operate around the clock and around the world. One that can guarantee support when it matters most and one with local knowledge of the issues and challenges in a particular country. This is where Air Partner excels.

5 things to think about

How can you make sure you are properly prepared for any planned or emergency relief projects? What things do you need to consider before executing aid and relief flights to crisis regions?

 1. Aircraft availability is sometimes highly volatile

Aircraft availability is dependent on a wide range of factors and the industry tends to be very reactive, so beware of fast-moving scenarios. The location of the emergency and the type of relief you need to provide will heavily influence your choice of aircraft. For example, what will offer the best balance of range and payload capacity, given the length of runway? Are they quick and easy to load and unload, and just as important, are they available now?

Make sure you work with a partner who not only has a real-time aircraft availability database, but also a global network of offices and expertise in the country you are delivering to.

2. Beware of over-promising and under-delivering

Most mistakes relate to providers over-promising or misinterpretation of information. It is important to provide realistic rather than optimistic or best-case-scenario schedules based on aircraft availability and the traffic rights process. Make sure you don’t underestimate the logistical complexity of making things happen in countries or locations where normal services and infrastructure are not working normally, if at all.

3. Check the terms and conditions

It is important to remember that air-charter contracts are highly specialized. Liability needs to be matched where possible between buy and sell contracts to shippers. Air Partner acts as a consultant to advise clients on contract terms. It is important the forwarder reflects the charter terms on the contract with their client. Otherwise, liability problems can arise. 

4. Be completely clear on cargo details and weights

It sounds simple but getting this wrong can have serious consequences – costing time and money. Aircraft loading methods vary massively from carrier to carrier, especially Bulk Loaded aircraft. Therefore, it is essential the type of aid you are transporting and the specifications of the aircraft you are using to transport it, match. Make sure the paperwork detailing cargo and its weight and volume are correct. Inaccuracies will only cause more delays and cost more to put right.

A good air cargo provider will work closely with you from the outset, making sure the planes you charter meet the logistical and payload needs of your cargo.

5. Be pragmatic about traffic rights and landing slots

By its very nature, humanitarian air response is often chaotic. As a result, aid and relief agencies from different countries often end up competing for landing slots at destination airports. It is essential to understand that while the cargo is urgent, sometimes it makes more sense to be pragmatic. Be patient and flexible when it comes to negotiating overflights or receiving diplomatic permissions to fly from countries.

Make sure your air-cargo partner has experience liaising with embassies to secure permissions, permits and visas, quickly. Ideally, a partner who global organizations – such as the UN, EU, NATO and leading NGOs like the Red Cross – rely on.

Understanding the global logistical challenges, having local knowledge and expertise, and a partner you can rely on – even in extreme or inhospitable regions – is the standard for our clients' expectations. It is how we have helped a range of aid and non-governmental organizations deliver emergency air support when natural or man-made disasters have struck.


Whatever your requirements are, tell us where you need to get to, and we will work with you to make it happen. Find out more about how our air cargo charter flights can deliver relief goods and humanitarian aid worldwide, quickly, efficiently and reliably.

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