The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), managed by the World Food Programme (WFP), offers timely, effective and cost-efficient passenger and light cargo transport for the wider humanitarian community to and from areas of crisis and intervention. It is the only humanitarian air service that gives equal access to all humanitarian entities.
All too often, overland access is limited by geographical location, the quality of infrastructure or security conditions. Sometimes natural disasters – as happened during the 2015 earthquake in Nepal – render airborne access the only option; at other times, it is conflict that puts entire areas beyond the reach of land transport or regular flights. Created precisely for such scenarios, UNHAS provides a critical link to some of the world’s most remote and challenging locations, allowing life-saving projects to be implemented and monitored.
On average, UNHAS transports 24,000 passengers and more than 450 metric tons of light cargo per month to over 300 regular destinations.
To fulfil its mission, UNHAS uses a fleet of more than 70 aircraft, including helicopters, chartered from commercial air operators that are compliant with the International Civil Aviation Organization Standards and Recommended Practices (ICAO SARPs) and the United Nations Aviation Standards for Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Air Transport Operations (UNAVSTADS).
In the words of the Chief of WFP Aviation Service Eric Perdison, UNHAS has been a “lifeline for many people confronted with humanitarian crises around the world. In many contexts, the service is especially important to provide access and reliable evacuation capacity for aid workers who strive to restore hope to thousands.