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World Food Program says COVID air network could fold soon

Singapore Airlines is helping the World Food Program deliver medical and humanitarian aid for dealing with the coronavirus. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

The World Food Program (WFP) says its air logistics support for humanitarian groups fighting the COVID-19 pandemic is running out of money.

The United Nations organization has managed more than 800 aid flights to 161 countries since May, when it established eight humanitarian response hubs and air links among them dedicated to pandemic response. Cargo volumes dispatched have been rising each month and total 44,654 cubic meters, according to an Aug. 11 situation report.

Enough cargo to fill 188 jumbo jets will need transport in the coming weeks, but only 21% of the $965 million required to sustain its logistics network has been donated so far, according to the World Food Program. 

“WFP’s passenger and cargo flights are likely to grind to a halt at the end of August if no additional support is received,” it said in a news release last week.

Among WFP’s corporate benefactors is Singapore Airlines, which is transporting essential medical supplies and other health-related items to those in need around the world. It is also operating repatriation flights.

Under its partnership agreement with the WFP, Singapore Airlines is making ad hoc charter flights and freight space in its scheduled services available on a cost-recovery basis, with flight costs being covered by a $6.5 million contribution from the Temasek Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Singapore state sovereign fund.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals and a Silver Medal from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government and trade coverage, and news analysis. He was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He won Environmental Journalist of the Year from the Seahorse Freight Association in 2014 and was the group's 2013 Supply Chain Journalist of the Year. In December 2022, Eric was voted runner up for Air Cargo Journalist by the Seahorse Freight Association. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. He has appeared on Marketplace, ABC News and National Public Radio to talk about logistics issues in the news. Eric is based in Vancouver, Washington. He can be reached for comments and tips at [email protected]