Airlines deliver aid following Maui wildfires

Airlines have played a crucial part in the Maui relief efforts over the past 10 days. 

Among other initiatives, carriers added flights in the immediate days after the fire to help with the evacuation, sometimes flying to destinations that aren’t part of their regular Maui network. 

Airlines have also played key roles in bringing relief workers and supplies onto Maui. 

Hawaiian Airlines, which is the largest carrier in Hawaii, said that it has contributed more than $600,000 in cash and in-kind donations toward relief efforts, a figure that has included providing more than 4,000 free seats to volunteers and members of the Maui community. 

Hawaiian also said that during the first six days after the disaster, its planes carried 54,000 pounds of essential cargo to Maui, ranging from life-saving blood and medical supplies to communications equipment and animal kennels.

In addition, Hawaiian expanded its partnership with local food banks, including donating $150,000. 

Those efforts were on top of flights Hawaiian Airlines added, with fares for as low as $19 as it transported more than 17,000 people out of Maui’s Kahului Airport in the first 72 hours after the fire. 

Southwest, Alaska, American, United and Delta — the five other major carriers that serve Maui — have made similar types of contributions. 

For example, Southwest, the second-largest Maui carrier, said it donated more than $100,000 in cash and air travel in the days after the fire. The carrier has also provided complimentary transport of key supplies and is coordinating with local officials for the transport of volunteer firefighters. 

Like Hawaiian, Southwest offered $19 tickets immediately after the fire, and the carrier said Friday that it has added service each day across the Pacific and within Hawaii. 

“Our work and partnerships will continue as we support long-term recovery efforts,” the airline said. 

Alaska Airlines, which doesn’t usually fly intra-Hawaii flights, operated rescue flights after the fires from Maui to Honolulu. The carrier also flew special cargo-only flights into Maui from its Seattle cargo facility, providing food, water, bedding, diapers and more. As of Thursday, Alaska said it has transported 189,000 pounds of relief supplies for victims of the Lahaina fire.

American, too, added flights to and from Maui after the Lahaina fire and upgraded the size of aircraft for other flights to assist with the evacuation.

The carrier said it has also stocked incoming aircraft with emergency supplies.

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United has continued with its Maui relief through this week, including bringing in 24,000 pounds of supplies from Chicago on Wednesday. 

United flew more than 12,000 people off of Maui in the week after the fire, often using aircraft that flew into the island without passengers for the sole purpose of disaster relief.  

United also added capacity from Honolulu to the mainland in the aftermath of the storm. 

Among Delta’s post-fire efforts has been a $250,000 donation to the Red Cross for Maui fire relief.

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