Since May 12, when an 8.0-magnitude earthquake killed over 51,000 Chinese and left over 5 million people homeless in the Sichuan Province of China, Air China has flown over 331 relief missions between Beijing and the city of Chengdu, about 60 miles south of the epicenter, to aid quake victims and their families. 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 along with needed relief supplies from China and around the world, including the US, into the area. In addition, they are 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.
In Los Angeles, Air China is working closely with the Chinese Consulate to ship donations collected from Western US companies, organizations and individuals. On May 22 the airline shipped the first load of donated goods aboard an . The shipment included 10 tons of urgently needed tents brought to Los Angeles from Mexico. Another 10 tons of medical equipment valued at $120,000 was flown to Sichuan three days later on a similar plane. Plans are in place to transport 14,000 additional rescuers and another 2,000 tons of supplies to Sichuan and to bring injured people out during the airlift.
“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,” Chi 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.
For information on how to donate to the Chinese earthquake relief effort, contact the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles (http://www.chinaconsulatela.org/) at 213-807-8065 or contact the non-profit relief organization of your choice.