An Air Canada-operated humanitarian special cargo flight on behalf of Airlink and other aid organizations departed Toronto Pearson International Airport with a final destination of Warsaw, Poland on Wednesday, March 9. Through a partnership between Air Canada, disaster logistics non-profit Airlink, relief organization Project C.U.R.E., and freight forwarder Flexport, medical supplies and hospital beds, humanitarian and medical supplies were loaded onboard the Air Canada Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Medical and trauma supplies destined for a Ukrainian hospital provided by Canadian disaster relief and life-saving humanitarian aid organization GlobalMedic were also boarded.
After the flight arrives in Poland, Project C.U.R.E. will manage the distribution of supplies to hospitals treating Ukrainian civilians injured during the war, expanding the capacity of hospitals in border regions to provide care. More than two million people throughout Ukraine have now fled their homes after the invasion seeking safety in neighbouring countries. Primary care has been identified by aid agencies as one of the most pressing needs.
“Our hearts are with the Ukrainian people in need – all of us have seen the crisis they are facing. We know from our aid partners the critical requirement for much needed medical and humanitarian supplies and our global partner Airlink reached out to us to help transport these vital items quickly. Importantly, both Airlink and GlobalMedic have the infrastructure and teams on the ground to ensure that the shipments will get to their destinations right after our flight arrives. We are proud of our employees who have stepped up to help organize the complex logistics, handle and operate this special flight so quickly,” said Jason Berry, Vice President, Cargo at Air Canada.
“This shipment will make a material impact on the lives of Ukrainians fleeing the conflict and support the communities hosting them,” said Steve Smith, Airlink President and CEO. “Getting the shipment to Poland on behalf of our NGO partner Project C.U.R.E. meant overcoming a challenging logistical environment, but I’m thrilled we could do it with assistance from our long-time friends and supporters Air Canada. This is the first of many cargo movements Airlink will carry out in support of Ukrainian refugees.”
“Project C.U.R.E. has an extensive history of working with our partners in Ukraine, and we remain committed to serving the people of Ukraine until the ravages of this war have been erased,” said Dr. Douglas Jackson, President and CEO of Project C.U.R.E. “This first shipment of emergency medical supplies and equipment is just one of many to come. People all over the world are responding to this need, and they are cheering on our work from all corners of the globe. We are incredibly grateful to our partners at Airlink and Air Canada for making this a reality – together we are saving lives and delivering health and hope to the people of Ukraine.”
“We are grateful to our friends at Airlink and Air Canada for giving us air cargo space to ship essential medicines and trauma supplies. The aid will land in Warsaw where our partners will grab them and truck them to a hospital in Lviv. Essential medicines are needed by patients fleeing the fighting who could not bring their prescription medicines with them and are facing shortages in local pharmacies. Trauma supplies especially dressings are needed to treat victims of this war,” said Rahul Singh, Executive Director at GlobalMedic.
Earlier this week, medical supplies were picked up from the Project C.U.R.E. warehouse in Illinois, transported to Chicago O’Hare airport and tendered to Air Canada by Flexport. Air Canada Cargo subsequently transported the supplies to its Cargo facility at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
Non-profit disaster logistics expert Airlink exists to help remove the cost of air transportation as a barrier to NGOs responding to disasters and other humanitarian crises. It was able to use its long-term partnership with Air Canada, and support from donors, to secure the cargo-only flight making the delivery of this shipment possible. Airlink also has transported 42 relief workers for 11 non-profit organizations providing medical care, food, mental health counseling, clean water, and other essentials to Ukrainian refugees.
Air Canada has worked together with Airlink and GlobalMedic to transport responders and aid on a number of missions, most recently in response to British Columbia’s devastating wildfires and floods.