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*Newest NGO Member Demonstrates Viability of AirLink’s Program *

Chicago, IL – Helping to raise awareness for AirLink’s humanitarian efforts, its newest non-governmental organization (NGO) member, Shelterbox, will be displaying one of their emergency shelters at the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) Foundation booth for ISTAT Americas 2012, March 18-20, in Scottsdale, AZ.

“Having an actual Shelterbox shelter on hand at the conference will provide a tactile element for attendees that will help us to raise awareness and ultimately drive membership for the AirLink program,” said Ty Prettyman, AirLink Program Director.  “This display will act as a platform for AirLink representatives to initiate discussions about the program with key members of the aviation industry and educate them about how simple it is to participate.”

While still new to AirLink, the program has already matched several Shelterbox needs with member airlines.  The largest of these matches was made when an earthquake struck Turkey on October 23, 2011, leaving approximately 60,000 people without homes.  In order to respond to the call for aid from the Turkish government, Shelterbox utilized AirLink’s simple web-based interface to post a charity transportation request. As a result, AirLink’s most recently added airline member, Turkish Airlines, responded to the request on November 3, fully donating approximately 46 tons of cargo space to Shelterbox for their mission to provide aid to the displaced families.  A total of 424 Shelterbox units and 12 pallets of thermal tent liners were flown by the airline from London to Erzurum, Turkey.  The move was valued at more than $61,000.00.

Most recently, AirLink matched two additional needs between Shelterbox and Etihad Airways.  In the first, Etihad donated seats for two passengers from London to Bangkok, Thailand, to Shelterbox to assess the results of the aid they provided in response to the September 2011 floods.  In the second, Etihad donated seats for two passengers from London to Manila, Philippines, to Shelterbox in order to send field staff to continue the organization’s work with populations affected by Tropical Storm Washi in December 2011.

Shelterbox is the premier international aid organization that provides emergency shelter and life-saving equipment following disasters such as floods, earthquakes, floods or conflict.   The top priority of many aid organizations is to provide food, water and medical care to help people survive the immediate aftermath of a disaster.  Without protection from the elements, survivors are at a higher risk as they await nourishment and attention.  Shelterbox recognized that little or no assistance was given in terms of proper shelter to help survivors through the first few days, weeks and months until more permanent shelter is found.  In response, Shelterbox developed a solution wherein each “box” supplies an extended family with a tent or lifesaving equipment to use while they are displaced or homeless with the contents tailored to the nature and location of the disaster.

ISTAT Americas 2012 is held each spring and is open to non-members. The conference addresses industry issues impacting the region that are addressed by prominent specialists. Featured speakers for ISTAT Americas 2012 include Nicholas E. Calio, President and Chief Executive Officer, Airlines for America; Michael Bair, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes; and Andrew Shankland, Senior Vice President, Leasing Markets, Airbus.  Networking activities round out the agenda and offer participants a unique opportunity to connect with colleagues.

AirLink is a humanitarian initiative of the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) Foundation.  It is a unique, free web-based program that connects non-governmental charitable organizations (NGOs) with airlines worldwide that can supply donated or discounted passenger or cargo transportation.  Since its inception in 2009, AirLink has been active in helping charities source transportation needs for their efforts during several recent disasters including the Haiti earthquake, Japan tsunami and, most recently, the earthquake in Turkey.  Currently, AirLink has 16 airline and 37 NGO members, a membership which it seeks to grow. For more information, visit www.airlink-info.org

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