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Airlines Taking Action: How U.S. Carriers are Serving Communities During COVID-19

During these unprecedented times, U.S. passenger and cargo carriers are leading efforts to transport critical medical supplies and deliver essential goods throughout the country. Carriers are flying medical responders free of charge to states significantly impacted by the pandemic and working with stakeholders to transport lifesaving resources to critical regions across the country. Combating coronavirus is a team effort and carriers are tirelessly working around the clock to serve local communities and keep the world connected.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines transported materials to create 210,000 hospital-grade masks for 51 hospitals across the western United States. Later, Alaska shipped almost 25,000 masks to the state of Alaska as a part of its partnership with Providence Health and Services for distribution to medical professionals in the highest need areas of the state. Alaska teams donated 200 N95 masks to healthcare workers and hospitals, and flew medical responders to New York City to assist with the city’s coronavirus response. Additionally, the carrier donated 300 retired entertainment tablets to people in isolation and recovery centers in King County, Washington. The Alaska Airlines Foundation has also awarded $315,000 to 23 nonprofits in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington for critical community needs.

The Alaska Airlines Foundation and Alaska Airlines have also partnered to donate more than one million meals to food banks across the country as a part of its “Million Meals Challenge.” 273,00 meals were donated to community food banks in 16 states in April, along with another round of donations with more than 250 Alaska employees delivering nearly 90,000 pounds of food to 35 communities in 20 states in May.

Atlas Air Worldwide

Atlas Air has been providing critical cargo support through partnering with organizations to  transport personal protective equipment (PPE) across the country in the fight against coronavirus. The carrier partnered with Flexport’s Frontline Fund to charter resources to those on the front lines, including a shipment of 65 tons of personal protective equipment (PPE) with 4.5 million face masks, 121,300 surgical gloves and 16,000 hazmat suits to the San Francisco Bay area. Atlas also donated air cargo to NYU Langone Health to transport two flights filled with medical supplies for frontline responders. Atlas continues to transport critical protective gear, including 1.5 million masks for Prisma Health in South Carolina, an additional 22 million masks from Vietnam to the U.S. as well as three Dreamlifters filled with PPE for the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

American Airlines

American Airlines raised more than $2 million for the American Red Cross with customers raising more than $1 million during the first 24 hours of the campaign. American donated thousands of supplies to communities on the frontlines of coronavirus, delivering 1,000 onboard amenity kits to Mount Sinai in New York, 2,400 amenity kits to Dana-Farber and 5,000 pandemic kits to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In addition, American worked with the State Department to fly thousands of travelers back to America through repatriation flights from Latin America and the Caribbean. American team members created care packages for servicemembers and recruited food and monetary donations from the Robert Irvine Foundation and Gary Sinise Foundation, all of which were delivered by American Airlines Cargo.

American has also sought creative ways to repurpose food and support local communities. The carrier has donated thousands of pounds of food from inflight service and Admirals Club lounges to food banks across the country, and team members at American’s Base Maintenance facility in Tulsa also creating face shields. The carrier, along with Hyatt Hotels, is recognizing frontline workers from NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst healthcare system with a three-night complimentary vacation with roundtrip flights, and the carrier partnered with Deloitte to transport more than 40,000 medical gowns to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. American is also working with the City of Philadelphia and other organizations to provide food and critical supplies to the unsheltered, including more than 1,000 personal pandemic kits.

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines is supporting medical volunteers through offering free flights to assist with states’ coronavirus response. While five states (Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey and New York) are formally part of the program, Delta has flown 350 volunteers to nearly 30 states and two Canadian provinces. The carrier also repatriated more than 28,000 people home to the U.S. in partnership with the State Department. Additionally, Delta Flight Products, along with the Delta TechOps division, has partnered with Global Center for Medical Innovation to manufacture protective medical face shields and has increased production to 1,500 per day with the goal of manufacturing 5,000 shields daily.

The Delta Flight Products and Delta TechOps team have also converted single-use, shipping containers into reusable mobile hospital rooms equipped with air filters and space for specialized military stretchers to transport members of the U.S. military who contract coronavirus. The carrier donated more than 200,000 pounds of food from inflight service and Delta Sky Clubs to hospitals, community food banks and other organizations to support people in need and those working on the frontlines. Delta is also working to help its long-term food service partners such as Linton Hopkins, Newrest and Sodexo with resources to serve communities.

FedEx Express

FedEx has moved millions of test swabs throughout the U.S. for COVID-19 testing and is further transporting personal protective equipment, medical supplies and other essential goods around the world. Additionally, FedEx Express transported more than 17,000 tons of supplies from February 1 to April 30. One FedEx Express Global Operations Control specialist who is also a member of the Tennessee Air National Guard piloted a mission to transport nearly one million test swabs from Italy to Memphis in 80 hours, where upon arrival, FedEx sorted and distributed the test swabs to be sent throughout the country. The carrier is collaborating with aid organizations such as International Medical Corps through transporting 22 crates with 10 medical shelters and three triage tents to hospitals in Los Angeles County. FedEx has also delivered protective gear to approximately 1,000 U.S. health centers and clinics, including transporting 250,000 N95 masks shipped by Direct Relief.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines is serving its local community through offering medical professionals complimentary flights to neighboring islands to support response efforts. Since April, nearly 500 medical professionals have used the complimentary Neighbor Island flights. Hawaiian also established a transportation service in order to provide complimentary cargo transportation to the residents on the rural islands of Moloka‘i and Lāna‘I. Ohana by Hawaiian will transport two packages at no cost for O’ahu shippers who are sending food or household items to the two islands. In addition, Hawaiian chartered a flight to transport nearly two million face masks to the islands, and has supported local non-profits through donating thousands of soft goods, such as blankets, pillowcases and mattress pads to 12 organizations.

JetBlue Airways

JetBlue is providing free flights to medical professionals, non-profits and students and working with non-profit partners and NGOs to transport supplies to where they are needed the most. The carrier partnered with Mercury Medical to donate 2,500 disposable CPAP devices to New York State, with JetBlue flying 2,400 pounds of cargo containing the donated devices. JetBlue also donated cots, blankets, pillows and inflight amenity kits to help Mount Sinai’s medical staff in New York, snacks to healthcare workers at the Broward and Palm Beach counties in Florida and crewmembers volunteered time to donate snacks to essential workers in Fort Lauderdale and Boston. JetBlue also partnered with the Ricky Martin Foundation, Project HOPE and CharityStars to transport thousands of KN95 masks to medical professionals and healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic in Puerto Rico. Additionally, JetBlue is donating 100,000 pairs of roundtrip flights to healthcare heroes, including pairs of roundtrip flight certificates to 10,000 healthcare workers at the Mount Sinai Health System and NYC Health + Hospitals. The carrier has flown more than 1,400 medical professionals to New York City and other destinations to support relief efforts.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest has offered complimentary cargo transport to FEMA, its disaster response partners and Medical Transportation Grant Program hospitals. Qualified 501(c)(3) organizations can ship medical supplies on cargo-only charter flights. The carrier also transported COVID-19 test kits and encouraging people to support the American Red Cross. Additionally, Southwest is utilizing $130,000 in unused travel funds from Deloitte to transport doctors, nurses and other medical professional between the University of California healthcare system.

Southwest is supporting communities where employees and customers live and work through donating $400,000 worth of product from in-flight snack and beverage service to the Feeding America network. The donation equaled nearly 13 tractor-trailers full of food to 15 food banks. Southwest has also donated snacks and beverages to nearly 50 local organizations across the country.

United Airlines

United collaborated with the State Department to repatriate travelers stranded abroad through operating more than 130 repatriation flights from Central America and transporting nearly 18,500 people back to the U.S. United also partnered with New York CityCalifornia and New Jersey to provide free, round-trip flights to medical volunteers flying to those regions to assist with the coronavirus response. The carrier worked with Flexport to transport essential medical supplies, including 300,000 masks, 70,000 goggles and 1,000 ventilators to medical facilities in New York. United has also joined with Airlink and MedShare to fly 50,000 N95 face masks from San Francisco International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport.

United converted its empty cargo facility in Houston, Texas into a food distribution center to assist the Houston Food Bank and has donated thousands of pounds of food and amenity kits to charities and medical personnel, including 15,000 pounds of perishable and non-perishable foods to community partners in New Jersey. Additionally, 300 team members are making wellness calls to check in on vulnerable Californians each week in partnership with Listos California, a campaign by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Recently, United delivered 7,500 face coverings to frontline employees at San Francisco International Airport made from 12,284 pounds of upcycled United uniforms.


UPS has donated tens of thousands of masks to medical and law enforcement personnel. The donations include 10,000 N95 respirator masks each to Kentucky’s Emergency Management Agency, the Long Beach fire and police departments, the Nevada Department of Public Safety, Wayne County Michigan’s sheriff’s department and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, as well as 6,000 face masks to Norton Healthcare and 5,000 masks and additional supplies to support New York healthcare workers and first responders.

UPS also partnered with the University of Louisville to ship PPE to healthcare workers, including face shields created using 3D printing, and the carrier will be making a $100,000 contribution to find research into blocking COVID-19 from infecting human cells. UPS will also donate nearly $300,000 to non-profits in the Louisville, Kentucky area to support Coronavirus relief efforts. UPS shipped the first ventilators produced by GM and VentecLife Systems to hospitals in Illinois and worked to expedite the global delivery of QIAGEN Coronavirus test kits. Additionally, the UPS Foundation is allocating $15 million to aid communities impacted by coronavirus and support non-profits into the recovery phase.

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