Air China has announced that it has flown over 331 relief missions between Beijing and the city of Chengdu to aid quake victims of the 12 May earthquake, which has claimed over 51,000 lives and left over five million homeless in the Sichuan Province.It is estimated that more than 29,000 Chinese are missing and over 300,000 are injured as a result of the quake. The airline has also begun shipping relief materials from the US to the quake-ravaged region.
Air China’s second most important hub after Beijing, Chengdu’s Shuangliu International Airport, 60 miles south of the quake’s epicenter, has become an emergency operations hub.
Working with the Chinese government, Air China is shuttling medical and government personnel and needed relief supplies from China and around the world, including the US, into the area, while airlifting injured victims and close family or friends to hospitals and facilities that are not damaged or stretched beyond capacity outside the quake region. Over 10,034 people and 2,700 tons of emergency cargo have been transported so far.
“Because Air China is the only national flag carrier of China, we shoulder more social responsibility,” said Zhihang Chi, Air China’s general manager, Western US.
“Moreover, because we are the largest commercial aviation enterprise in China in both passenger and cargo capability, we can help deal with the enormous magnitude of this disaster,” said Chi.” We also have the procedures in place to work closely with the government in China to quickly respond to the needs of the afflicted, and to cope with large-scale transportation logistics in a time of regional crisis,” he added.
Earthquake relief efforts have not disrupted Air China’s normal passenger and cargo service throughout China and the rest of the world, according to Chi. Locally, Air China operates daily non-stop passenger service and four all-cargo flights per week between Los Angeles and Beijing.