oneworld airlines fly to the aid of Indian Ocean tsunami victims

08 January 2005

All oneworldTM airlines participating in UNICEF's Change for Good programme are pledging all proceeds raised this month at least to the charity's relief efforts in the Indian Ocean regions affected by the devasting tsunamis of late last month.

Change for Good, oneworld's nominated charitable cause, works by inviting passengers and employees to donate any unwanted foreign currency to UNICEF, which uses it to help some of the world's most underprivileged children. The airlines collect the coins and notes in-flight or at airports or their offices. Aer Lingus, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas are all running the scheme this month. Their flight attendants will be making special announcements highlighting the tsunami collections, and their airlines providing extra bins for donations at airports. American Airlines and British Airways are also enabling visitors to their websites and to donate directly to UNICEF.

British Airways has pledged £1 million (US$1.9 million) to UNICEF's relief efforts - half in cash and the rest in gifts such as tickets and cargo space. Qantas has given A$1 million (US$800,000) to charities working in the area, and Cathay Pacific has contributed HK$1 million (US$130,000) to a fund set with the Hong Kong Red Cross. It has also promised to match all donations made by its staff worldwide in the month ahead. The total collected has already reached more than HK$5 million (US$650,000).

American Airlines and its regional affiliate American Eagle nominated the week of 10 January Tsunami Relief Week, with their employees spearheading a series of initiatives to raise funds to help the victims of the disaster. 

Many oneworld carriers - British Airways, Finnair and Qantas among them - have operated special flights to the region to fly in aid and evacuate visitors caught up in the disaster.

British Airways and Qantas sent additional staff, including teams from their Health Services units, to Thailand to assist the evacuation of overseas nationals from the country, and mounted additional flights from the region. Staff from both airlines traveled to Phuket to support a special Qantas relief flight there.

Finnair operated an emergency air bridge between Phuket and its Helsinki home base, carrying in medical teams and evacuating thousands of Europeans from the island on a total of 11 flights, and converted one of its Boeing 757s to act as an air ambulance, with special facilities for 22 stretchers.

The airlines have also provided travel to the region for charities, relief teams and aid - including blankets supplied by Cathay Pacific, which has also operated a special Boeing 747 Freighter carrying aid to Indonesia. Qantas flew a special service to Sri Lanka and BA flying Boeing 747 Freighters, packed with relief supplies including almost 20.000 tents, to the island's capital Colombo.  American has also provided transport to the region for medical professionals and supplies.

Qantas has also donated front page advertising space it had booked in major Australian newspapers to UNICEF and the CARE Australia charity to use to appeal for donations, and is providing free travel for international cricket stars participating in next week's fund-raising charity match and supporting various other fund-raising ventures.

For further details, see each airline's individual website.