Rather than cancelling hundreds of flights (here’s looking at you Ryanair), this European low-cost airline has just added a very special one-off flight to its schedule. The airline is the Scandinavian upstart, Norwegian Air Shuttle and the destination is one definitely not destined for the carrier’s normal passengers – war-ravaged Yemen, in the Middle East.
The flight took off from Copenhagen Airport in Demark en route to the small African country of Djibouti – The closest point to Yemen that is actually safe to land a plane. On board, the entire cargo hold was packed with emergency aid including water purification tablets and community kits. The aid will be distributed by Norwegian’s longtime charity partner, UNICEF.
“Our relationship with UNICEF is the most important of all our external relationships,” Norwegian’s chief executive Bjørn Kjos said of the partnership which has been running since 2007.
Kjos continued: “It is also a great opportunity to engage our staff, who are passionate about these issues. We look forward to conducting, even more, missions like this with UNICEF in the future.”
Tickets were auctioned to aviation enthusiasts to help raise money for UNICEF
The airline’s 71-year old chief executive even got stuck in, helping to load the life-saving cargo into the aircraft. As in previous aid missions organised by Norwegian, Kjos will lead the team to its destination.
And while the flight won’t have many passengers there will be some onboard. They come in the form of serious aviation enthusiasts who have paid big money to be part of the trip. Their donations have helped Norwegian raise $25,000 for the benefit of UNICEF on this flight alone.
At least the ride to Djibouti will be a nice one – on Norwegian’s brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Delivered to the airline just one week ago and painted in the UNICEF livery. The specially painted aircraft joins a Boeing 737 to proudly display Norwegian’s partnership with the UN agency for the humanitarian support of children.
Between 4,600 – 10,000 civilians are estimated to have been killed in the conflict
A full-blown armed conflict in Yemen erupted in 2015 following a series of airstrikes against Huthi rebels by a Saudi-led coalition. Amnesty International calls the conflict, “the forgotten war” and claims there have been war crimes and “horrific” human rights abuses in a war that has infected the entire country.
Over 4,600 civilians are estimated to have been killed in the conflict and a further 8,000 have been injured. A staggering 18.8 million people are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and are in the grip of what the UN calls the “world’s worst cholera outbreak.”
Latest figures estimate roughly 5,000 new cases are being diagnosed every day and UNICEF has launched a special appeal for emergency aid to help fight the outbreak. Norwegian’s supply flight will be providing much-needed water purification tablets in the fight against cholera.
Norwegian and UNICEF estimate the lives of 100,000 children have been saved
This is the fourth special aid flight since 2014 organised by Norwegian in partnership with UNICEF. Previous missions have seen the airline fly aid to the Central African Republic, Mali and to Jordan to help refugees displaced by the civil war in Syria.
Norwegian’s fundraising efforts have helped raise over $2.5 million USD for UNICEF projects since 2007. The agency estimates the lives of over 100,000 children have been saved through the partnership.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.