The U.S. ordered six airlines to provide planes to fly Americans and Afghan allies fleeing Kabul from airbases outside Afghanistan

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U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III has ordered six commercial airlines to provide passenger jets to help with the growing U.S. military operation evacuating Americans and Afghan allies from Kabul, the Afghan capital, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The current activation is for 18 planes: four from United Airlines; three each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and Omni Air; and two from Hawaiian Airlines.

Civilian planes would not fly into or out of Kabul, where a rapidly deteriorating security situation has hampered evacuation flights. Instead, commercial airline pilots and crews would help transport thousands of Afghans who are arriving at U.S. bases in Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Sunday, August 22, 2021 9:19 AM EST

Source: The New York Times

Hereunder the statement from the Department of Defense:

Department of Defense activates Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) to assist with Afghanistan efforts

AUG. 22, 2021

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has ordered the Commander of U.S. Transportation Command to activate Stage I of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF). CRAF activation provides the Department of Defense access to commercial air mobility resources to augment our support to the Department of State in the evacuation of U.S. citizens and personnel, Special Immigrant Visa applicants, and other at-risk individuals from Afghanistan.

The current activation is for 18 aircraft: three each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and Omni Air; two from Hawaiian Airlines; and four from United Airlines. The Department does not anticipate a major impact to commercial flights from this activation.

CRAF activated aircraft will not fly into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. They will be used for the onward movement of passengers from temporary safe havens and interim staging bases. Activating CRAF increases passenger movement beyond organic capability and allows military aircraft to focus on operations in and out of in Kabul.

CRAF is a National Emergency Preparedness Program designed to augment the Department’s airlift capability and is a core component of USTRANSCOM’s ability to meet national security interests and contingency requirements.  Under CRAF, the commercial carriers retain their Civil Status under FAA regulations while USTRANSCOM exercises mission control via its air component, Air Mobility Command.

This is the third CRAF activation in the history of the program. The first occurred in support of Operations Desert Shield/Storm (Aug. 1990 to May 1991), and the second was for Operation Iraqi Freedom (Feb. 2002 to June 2003).

The DOD’s ability to project military forces is inextricably linked to commercial industry, which provides critical transportation capacity as well as global networks to meet day-to-day and contingency requirements.  Utilizing commercial partners expands USTRANSCOM’s global reach as well as access to valuable commercial intermodal transportation systems.

The Secretary greatly appreciates the support of our industry partners in this critical mission.

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