U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, left, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, hold a press conference about the situation in Afghanistan at The Pentagon in Washington, DC. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
UPDATED 11:45 AM PT – Sunday, August 22, 2021
The Biden administration has enlisted the help of commercial airlines in the ongoing efforts to evacuate people from Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin enacted the first stage of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet on Sunday by formally requesting 18 planes from six airlines including American, Delta and United.
The Pentagon said the aircraft would not fly into the airport in Kabul, but would be involved in transporting passengers from temporary safe havens in the Middle East and Europe to other destinations.
“Involved are 18 aircrafts: 3 each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and Omni Air; 2 from Hawaiian Airlines and 4 from United Airlines,” Austin explained on Twitter. “They will not fly into HKIA. They’ll be used to fly passengers out from temporary safe havens and interim staging bases.”
This marks the third time in history the Civil Reserve Air Fleet has been activated. It is not expected this will have a notable impact on normal commercial flights.