Airlines Start Emergency Relief Flights to Puerto Rico

Sep 22, 2017

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As Puerto Rico continues to deal with the destruction that Hurricane Maria dealt to the island, airlines have started relief flights to help its people.

Friday morning, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo flew to Puerto Rico on a special JetBlue charter flight, one of two A321 aircraft — one with Cuomo and other government and emergency response workers aboard and the other full of emergency supplies. According to CBS News the provisions include  34,000 bottles of water, 9,600 ready-to-eat meals, 3,000 canned goods, 500 flashlights, 1,400 cots, 1,400 blankets, 1,400 pillows and 10 generators. 60 National Guard troops, 50 state police, four Black Hawk helicopters, 10 workers form the New York Power Authority and drones plus two drone pilots are being sent down to help.

New York has a large population of Puerto Ricans and Governor Cuomo has pledged New York’s support to the US territory. JetBlue flight 8521, full of supplies, left at 8:31 am, while Cuomo’s flight 8023 left at 8:43am. Both flights arrived safely at San Juan International Airport (SJU) although SJU is still not fully functional.

Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 10.43.26 AM
The path of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s special JetBlue charter flight from New York (JFK) to San Juan (SJU).

“We are honored to support this relief flight, the first of many to come, as the people of Puerto Rico begin to recover from this terrible event. Our hearts go out to all those impacted,” said Robin Hayes, president and CEO of JetBlue. “As the largest airline in Puerto Rico, we are in a unique position to work with them to support our crewmembers, customers and communities across the island.”

American said it planned on operating five round-trip 737 flights from Miami to San Juan and one roundtrip A330-200 flight from Philadelphia (PHL) to help with relief efforts.

Sheli Muniz of NBC Miami was aboard American flight 9243 full of AA supplies and crewmembers who were on their way to restart operations at SJU. It took off at 07:28AM EDT and landed at 09:46AM AST. Supplies included food, water, lanterns, cots, tarps, fans, batteries, boots and generators. Muniz captured workers unloading supplies from the 737.

Hours after American’s flight landed, President Trump tweeted Friday thanking the airline and its CEO Doug Parker for all the relief flights they have operated to areas affected by recent Hurricanes.

Most major US airlines, except United, will be resuming limited passenger flights to San Juan starting Saturday, although the island is still without power.

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