London, Friday, April 9, 1999: Another aircraft load of emergency aid donated by the British public will be airlifted to the Balkans by British Airways tomorrow (Saturday) morning on its second relief flight in two days.
The supplies on board the special Boeing 757 flight have been given by the airline’s employees and UK businesses and readers of The Express in response to an appeal launched by the newspaper last week. They include nappies, baby and children’s clothing, baby feeding bottles, personal hygiene items and shoes.
The first delivery of 25 tonnes of emergency aid, mainly food, is already in Macedonia, being distributed to refugees there. It was airlifted by the airline’s 757 from RAF Lyneham to Thessaloniki, in Northern Greece, on Thursday, where it was met by soldiers from the Royal Logistics Corps who drove it on lorries the 220 kms onwards to Macedonia, where there are more than 100,000 refugees, many without shelter, possessions or food.
Tomorrow’s load will be lighter, weighing around 12 tonnes, but while the goods are less heavy they are also a great deal bulkier so the aircraft will be full to capacity.
The flight, BA9286C, will leave from Heathrow at 10 am, taking a little more than three hours to fly to Thessaloniki, returning to London in the evening.
Passenger seats will again be taken out of the twinjet cabins to enable it to lift five times its normal cargo payload, with the supplies packed in the cabins as well as the holds. The airline’s 757s typically carry 5.2 tonnes of cargo and up to 195 passengers.
It will be flown by an all volunteer crew, with around a dozen loaders on board to help unpack the supplies onto lorries at the other end.
The airline is preparing further relief flights next week, with the response to its joint appeal with The Express exceeding all expectations.
The airline and newspaper are working closely with leading charities like UNICEF ( the United Nations Children’s Fund), the Red Cross and UNHCR (the United Nations High Commission for Refugees).