Despite the horrific devastation, it is mostly out of the headlines
right now. But the impact of Hurricane Maria is close to the hearts of
many in the air cargo business.
Here, American Airlines Cargo President
Rick Elieson updates us on American Airlines’ response to Hurricane
Maria’s impact on Puerto Rico with Operation #PuertoRicoStrong.
Irma devastated so many islands in the Caribbean before hitting Florida,
we were heartbroken to see the impact Hurricane Maria had on Puerto Rico.
“We have thousands of American Airlines
team members with family and friends in the region, so it’s been
especially difficult for us to watch these islands endure multiple Category
“But it is in the face of adversity
that I am reminded of how proud I am of our team, which leapt into action
to send relief to the area as soon as we could.
“We ran our first relief flight to
San Juan (SJU) with volunteers and more than 10,000 pounds of relief supplies
on board, and we have many more planned as part of our Operation #PuertoRicoStrong.
“We are sending hundreds of generators
to affected areas all around the Caribbean, and we’re working closely
with charities like GlobalMedic, PetSmart, and Watts of Love to supply
the island with diapers, wipes, pet crates, solar lighting, and other
necessary supplies to help get people back on their feet and restore a
sense of normalcy to the area.
“One of the coolest things that we’re
doing to support the many people who want to help is that we are letting
every single domestic-based American Airlines team member send relief
supplies to SJU for free.
“We’re covering the taxes and
making sure there is no cost to them.
“This has been a trying time for
our family and friends in Houston, Florida, and the Caribbean.
“From Harvey to Irma, the earthquake
in Mexico City, and now Maria, these storms have tested our resolve like
“But I know that our team is more
than up for the challenge.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the
immediate response from our team members, charity partners, and customers
who stepped up to help our family and friends in the Caribbean.
“It is awesome to witness.
“Fortunately, our preparation in
advance of the latest round of storms has helped our recovery.
“We had pre-positioned a battalion
of generators in MIA and PHL, and we also sent satellite phones, water,
and dry goods to the islands before the storms hit.
“We added flights before each hurricane
to help evacuate customers out of STX and SJU, and we added extra sections
on widebody aircraft to get people out of the affected areas.
“After Hurricane Irma, we immediately
sent relief flights through SJU to help assist STT and SXM evacuees.
“We have set up a command center
in SJU to oversee all relief efforts from Irma, ultimately sending 26,000
pounds of humanitarian relief, including food, water, generators, and
other needs to team and partner employees in STT, SXM, and PLS.
“Following Hurricane Harvey, we immediately
sent a rescue flight loaded with more than 10,000 lbs. of relief equipment,
including food, water, generators, blankets, and diapers.
“And after learning that a joint
reserve base in Houston was flooded, we were honored to work with fire
departments in New York to send clothes to the children of 1st Battalion,
23rd Marines, who had lost everything.
“The commitment and resiliency of
our team members has been truly impressive. In spite of empty streets
and devastation, our team members have continued to show up ready to do
whatever they can to help their colleagues.
“Finally, we were due to hold our
semi-annual Cargo Leadership Conference in Chicago and instead rescheduled
it for Miami, where we repurposed our time to lending aid to affected
“As always, we are still committed
to our partnership with the Red Cross.
“In the aftermath of all of these
devastating hurricanes, we’re letting AAdvantage® members earn
10 miles for every dollar donated to the Red Cross with a minimum $25