United Nations Humanitarian Air Service

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United Nations Humanitarian Air Service
United Nations (UTair) Boeing 737-500-1.jpg
A United Nations Humanitarian Air Service Boeing 737 operated by UTair

The WFP-managed United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) provides common air services for the humanitarian community to very remote and very challenging locations. In doing so, it facilitates the implementation and monitoring of humanitarian interventions in numerous life-saving thematic areas. In most countries requiring humanitarian assistance, surface travel is impeded by challenging security situations, long distances and poor road conditions. Furthermore, most of the destinations the humanitarian community needs to reach are not served by adequate commercial air operators. When no other means of reaching isolated communities is available, aid workers can rely on UNHAS to provide access. [1]

UNHAS charters commercially operated aircraft, compliant with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices (SARP) and the United Nations Aviation Standards for Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Air Transport Operations (UNAVSTADS).[2]

Chartered aircraft are fully dedicated to UNHAS operations. Therefore, contracted air carriers are assured of revenue in terms of guaranteed aircraft utilization for the duration of the contract. This, along with UNHAS’ efficient management of schedules, ensures that partner air carriers avoid taking undue risks to achieve financial gains. For example, in the event of a flight cancellation due to poor weather conditions, the air carrier would not be financially penalized.

UNHAS operations[edit]

In 2017 UNHAS provided passenger and light cargo services through 14 WFP special operations in 15 countries:[3]


For historic fleet, please see Planespotters.

In 2017, the operational fleet consisted of a mix of jet and turboprop aircraft as well as helicopters, including


In 2017, UNHAS transported 327,934 aid workers, donors and journalists alongside 2,708 mt of humanitarian cargo and food to 286 destinations in 14 country operations. Additionally, 1,580 evacuations have been carried our during this year. [2]

UNHAS passengers are divided into three categories:[2]

  • NGO: 56%
  • UN: 40%
  • Donors, diplomats and others: 4%

WFP Aviation Safety and Quality Assurance Management Systems[edit]

UNHAS operations are supported by solid structures built by WFP Aviation to mitigate risks and to provide the air services 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).[2] 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 is funded by 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-shows and to contribute to the operational cost of the air service.

The UNHAS donors in 2017 were: Belgium, Canada, the EU, Germany, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the USA, and the UN itself.[2]

External links[edit]

United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot, Brindisi

Aviation - WFP



  1. ^ "Chapter 6: Flying Humanitarians: The UN Humanitarian Air Service - UN Air Power: Wings for Peace". unairpower.net. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
  2. ^ a b c d e "WFP Aviation Annual Review 2017". WFP Aviation Annual Review. March 2018.
  3. ^ "UN Humanitarian Air Service | World Food Programme". www1.wfp.org. Retrieved 2018-11-07.

See also[edit]