“The airlines have a proud history of supporting the United States military in time of war—we have been doing so for over sixty years,” said James C. May, president and CEO of the Air Transport Association of America, Inc. (ATA). “We are proud of what we do every day and even prouder to serve our country in time of crisis.”
For decades, U.S. airlines have provided passenger and cargo transport services to the military in peacetime and wartime. In 1941, Edgar Gorrell, the first president of the ATA, presented the concept of voluntary civil airlift participation in wartime to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“The activation of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) program demonstrates just how important our commercial aviation system is to the United States,” said May. “We are not only a vital sector of the economy—we can and do fulfill an essential national defense role.”
The modern CRAF partnership was formalized through a series of presidential executive orders and memoranda of understanding, the first of which was signed December 15, 1951. Under the CRAF program, U.S. airlines commit to support Department of Defense (DoD) airlift needs when those needs exceed the military`s own airlift capability. In emergencies, DoD can activate U.S. civil aircraft and crews on 24-48 hours notice.
The Air Transport Association of America, Inc. is the trade association for leading U.S. airlines. ATA members transport over 95 percent of all the passenger and cargo traffic in the United States.