United Nations Humanitarian Air Service
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The United Nations Humanitarian Air Services (UNHAS) is a UN common service managed by the World Food Programme (WFP). UNHAS provides safe and reliable passenger and cargo air services to the entire humanitarian community especially to remote locations where due to lack of infrastructures and insecurity there are no commercial alternatives. UNHAS air facilities are deployed in support of aid delivery and development programmes of the humanitarian community during and after emergencies. UNHAS equally provides one-time dedicated flights/strategic airlifts and performs medical and security evacuations at the request of the humanitarian community. Timely intervention makes the difference between life and death. When emergencies occur, whether it is the Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008, Typhoon Ketsana in the Philippines in 2009 or the mid-January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, UNHAS positions aircraft within the first 48 hours. UNHAS is the only Aviation Service in emergencies available to staff from all humanitarian organizations; be it Humanitarian UN agencies, non-governmental organizations or donor community institutions. Equal access is given to all humanitarian agencies on the basis of first come first serve. The service is completely demand driven as it responds to the requirements of the humanitarian community established through the User Groups in different country operations.
At the United Nation’s Fifth Session of the High Level Committee on Management held in New York in June 2003, WFP accepted the responsibility of administering air transport services for UN agencies in humanitarian and “other” activities that are not directly or specifically for peacekeeping. UNHAS is one of the five UN Common Services.
UNHAS Field Operations
UNHAS is providing air services in the following countries: Afghanistan (with international flights to and from Islamabad), Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Congo (UNHCR dedicated aircraft), Ethiopia, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Libya, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania (UNHCR dedicated aircraft). WFP/UNHAS responded with massive helicopter deployment during the Haiti earthquake and Pakistan flood in 2010.
Aircraft in UNHAS fleet
UNHAS does not own its own aircraft; it charters aircraft from a pool of shortlisted air carriers through a transparent electronic bidding system. UNHAS uses an average of 54 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters for its regular operations every month. The fleet is composed of aircraft such as Embraer 120, de Havilland Canada Dash-8, LET Kunovice Let-410, Bombardier B1900D, Beechcraft B1900C, Pacific Aerospace PAC 750XL, Cessna Caravan C208B, Dornier J-328 Jet, Mil Mi-8T, Mil Mi-8P, Mil Mi-8MTV and Bell 212. Cargo aircraft used are Ilyushin Il-76, McDonnell Douglas MD-11, Boeing 747, Antonov An-12, Antonov An-24, Antonov An-26, and Antonov An-124.
In 2010, UNHAS transported about 350,000 aid workers, donors and journalists alongside 14,000mt of humanitarian cargo in 49,000 flying hours to 240 destinations in 19 country operations.
WFP Aviation Safety and Quality Assurance Management Systems
UNHAS operations are supported by solid structures built by WFP Aviation to mitigate risks and to provide the best possible air service to its clients. WFP Aviation has an independent Aviation Safety Unit (ASU); with the responsibility to ensure that all chartered Air Carriers (AOC holders) comply with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and the United Nations Aviation Standards (UNAVSTAD). Over the years, ASU’s oversight function has helped UNHAS to reduce risks to an acceptable level. UNHAS equally benefits from WFP Aviation Quality Assurance Systems and Aviation Training.
WFP/UNHAS depends on voluntary contributions from donors and money realized from a partial cost recovery scheme through which passengers pay nominal fees for the air service. This is normally to reduce the number of no-show and to contribute to the operational cost of the air service.
UNHAS Donors in 2010/2011: USA, UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), The Humanitarian Aid department of the European Commission (ECHO), Japan, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Belgium, Multilaterals, European Commission, Sweden, Spain, Denmark, Switzerland, China, Ireland and Luxembourg.
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