When roads are impassable or infrastructure is destroyed, WFP turns to the skies to quickly bring humanitarian cargo and aid workers to cut-off communities in the most inaccessible places on the planet. Whether the cause is flood or earthquake, cyclone or war, WFP Aviation operates on the front lines of hunger.
Read the WFP Aviation Annual Report
When delivery by land renders surface transport impossible, WFP organizes airlifts, which deploy life-saving food assistance by plane within 48 hours. Serving not only WFP, reliable and cost-efficient air transport of food and non-food cargoes is made available to the entire humanitarian community, including UN agencies and NGOs. When needed, WFP also performs air drops, flying over designated ‘drop zones’ and releasing aid cargos from high above, thus serving remote populations through a rapid and targeted response.
As the world’s leading humanitarian airline, the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) has direct access to a diverse global fleet of 54 chartered aircraft, including helicopters, all ready for deployment within 48 hours upon request. Aid workers in the deep field, with no other means of transportation, rely on UNHAS to bring them to some of the world’s most remote and isolated communities, where commercial airlines do not fly. With service to over 350 destinations in 13 countries, UNHAS has carried over 1.4 million humanitarian passengers since 2006.
In times where civil unrest has pushed communities to the brink, and aid workers are cut-off from those they’re trying to help, time is of the essence. Thanks to a strategic fleet of two stand-by helicopters based in Entebbe, Uganda, WFP is able to further ensure that we are in place to respond quickly and efficiently. From this geographically central location, these helicopters are ready for deployment in 24 hours, and are poised to reach all of continental Africa, Madagascar and even Pakistan if required. With the ability to carry essential food assistance and cargo, they are well equipped to transfer aid workers to the most hard-to-reach places, as well as perform medical evacuations. Funded by EU ECHO, they are made available to not only WFP, but the humanitarian community as well.
Passenger safety is at the forefront of all WFP Aviation operations. WFP’s Aviation Safety Unit, headquartered in Rome with regional offices in Kenya, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates, is responsible for ensuring adequate levels of safety in WFP humanitarian air operations, in accordance with United Nations Common Aviation Safety Standards and the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) standards and best practices.
WFP Aviation in numbers:
- Total cost: US$193 million
- Agencies served: 870
- Passengers: 354,454
- Cargo: 3,560 mt
- Flying hours: 45,161
- Destinations: 350
- Medical evacuations: 184
- Security evacuations: 86
- Aviation training: 400 people