When roads to KwaZulu-Natal were closed and alternative supply chains had not been re-established, South Africa’s aviation fraternity came together to deliver relief to the unrest-hit province and ferry people out.
The Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA) said the KZN Air Fund and relief mission helped enable the movement of emergency medical and food supplies to various disaster struck destinations within KZN.
Starlite Aviation at Virginia Airport has been a staging point for many mercy missions, linking with Margate and Richards Bay Airport. King Shaka International Airport has been a staging point for larger aircraft.
CAASA said that many selfless individuals and companies have been flying missions carrying essential emergency goods such as baby formular, chronic medications, vital emergency rations, evacuating the sick and elderly, etc. whilst roads were closed. The N3 re-opening and community security initiatives, along with mobilizing NGOs and supply chains for unaffected parts of the country are now in full swing and ramping up.
CAASA along with many volunteers have assisted in numerous food movements by small aircraft. 73 of these flights had been recorded by the morning of 19 July. “We concentrated on small packages and essential emergency items hence the tonnage was not huge. The focus was on efficiency and targeted deliveries of aid,” CAASA said.
As the road infra structure with larger capacity mobilizes fully, the aviation initiative will start slowing down and will only move very vital items. “We will however remain vigilant and on standby if the situations escalate once more,” CAASA said.
The current focus now moves to outlying areas that are difficult to get to by road as and when the needs arise.
Companies like Starlite Aviation, Comair Flight Services (CFS), NAC, CEMAIR, Absolute Aviation and ExecuJet, to name a mere few, have been involved in sponsoring pilots, providing charters or providing space on aircraft to move goods.