FORT WORTH, PUERTO RICO and THE CARIBBEAN – September 23, 2017 – American Airlines resumed limited service to San Juan, Puerto Rico Friday with three flights, all carrying relief supplies. The first flight brought more than 13,000 pounds of supplies, including cots, tarps, generators, food and water. Also onboard: nearly 100 American team member volunteers – all with ties to Puerto Rico – who arrived to lend a helping hand.
Due to connectivity challenges, including air traffic control constraints and lack of power at the airport, operations are limited for all airlines. Additionally, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has to screen all passengers and their belongings manually, as TSA equipment is reliant on power.
On Friday, a news crew from the NBC affiliate in Miami was on the first commercial flight to arrive in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and they saw firsthand supplies being offloaded at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. NBC spoke with Jim Butler, senior vice president, International and Cargo:
“It was an emotional trip in, we have a lot of history here in San Juan. The team in Miami all has family down here, and when we asked yesterday if we had anyone who was willing to come help, immediately we were able to fill the airplane.”
– Jim Butler, senior vice president, International and Cargo
To support the many American team members who have family and friends in Puerto Rico, American is waiving size and weight restrictions as well as shipping costs so team members can send supplies and generators to their loved ones in a program called Operation Puerto Rico Strong . Only active team members can take advantage of this current program.
Due to a change in airport conditions, American’s flight on Saturday, Sept. 23 was canceled. American plans to resume service Sunday, Sept. 24, with one roundtrip flight from Miami to San Juan on a Boeing 777-200 aircraft, which will bring additional personnel and supplies and to the island. Operations will continue to ramp up, as power is restored to airport facilities.
“It will take time to rebuild,” added Jim. “We are certainly committed and we are excited to start it up this quickly.”
Helping other islands impacted by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria
On Saturday, Sept. 23, American resumed service to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands. Flights from our Miami and Charlotte hubs arrived and departed safely.
Due to airport closures since Hurricane Irma, operations remain suspended to Saint Maarten, St. Croix and St. Thomas. Once airports reopen, American plans to resume commercial service with extra flights in order to bring additional supplies and resources to these communities.
American operated eight relief flights to Saint Maarten, Turks and Caicos and the U.S. Virgin Islands prior to Hurricane Maria. American also used a boat to send additional supplies to Saint Maarten. More than 26,000 pounds of humanitarian relief, including food, water, generators and other important items has been sent to these communities.
“Our thoughts are with those who have been and continue to be impacted by these powerful storms, these communities are very important to all of us at American. Once airports in the region reopen and can support additional aircraft, we will be adding extra flights in order to help our customers and team members, and provide supplies to the island.”
– Alfredo Gonzalez, managing director, Caribbean
SOURCE: American Airlines