Image by The U.S. Army via Flickr
All on a single runway, 24/7
SOUTHCOM Cdr, Gen. Fraser, discusses air operations into Port au Prince Airport in his latest blog entry. Excerpt below:
The HFOCC began coordinating all air traffic into and out of Haiti, a monumental task. Before 12 January, the Port-au-Prince airport handled no more than 30 flights a day. Since then, the airport capacity has increased four-fold – on average, 120 flights a day are flying in and out of Haiti; all on a single runway, 24/7.
This is a tightly choreographed operation with no margin for delay. Airplanes must arrive and depart on time, unload passengers and humanitarian supplies and load evacuees on schedule. My top priority – and I am sure the top priority of the entire donor community – is the organized, safe and speedy delivery of critical aid to the Haitian people. The Government of Haiti, in coordination with the U.S. Government and the United Nations’ Mission in Haiti, establishes aircraft landing priorities according to the priority of the aircraft’s cargo, such as medical supplies, food and equipment. Based on these priorities, aircraft are given a small window of time in which to land, off-load their cargo and depart. Aircraft that have requested and received time slots to land and off-load their cargo in advance are not turned away from the airport; every aircraft which requests a slot is assigned one.
Read Gen. Fraser’s blog post here.
Like Mark Thompson writes, “Sometimes it takes a catastrophe to demonstrate just how much more the U.S. military is able to do than simply kill the enemy. Only the U.S. can initially control flights into and out of the Port-au-Prince airport from aboard a nearby Coast Guard cutter, while waiting for an Air Force special-ops team to set up shop at the airport and step up operations to 24/7. Only U.S. warships have the capability to generate up to 400,000 gallons of fresh water a day from seawater.” Read more here.