As the world’s largest airline, American Airlines is used to operating in difficult environments. But Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have challenged not only our team members, but also our customers and the communities we call home.
Our team members have rallied together to support communities affected by these storms in order to resume operations as quickly — and safely — as possible. Our service is even more critical in the Caribbean, where our flights represent a life line for residents and visitors.
At American, we prepared for all of these storms by adding flights, enabling more of our customers to evacuate from locations from the storm’s path. We also capped fares at $99 for one-way, non-stop flights.
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These caps remain in place through the end of October for San Juan, St. Maarten, Providenciales, St. Thomas and St. Croix — islands that continue to feel the impact of destruction.
Additionally, as many of our customers want to bring supplies to their family and friends on these islands, we are enabling our customers to check two bags free of charge.
At our Miami hub, we were the first airline to resume operations after Hurricane Irma.
And in Puerto Rico, we were also the first airline to resume operations after Hurricane Maria.
Today, our Caribbean neighbors need our help the most. American has transported more than 1.5 million pounds of cargo and relief items to the islands, including water, food, medical supplies, tarps, cots, blankets, and cleaning supplies.
Since Sept. 22 we have also operated more than 170 flights into and out of Puerto Rico; operated humanitarian relief flights to St. Maarten, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos; and donated $1.96 million to the Red Cross since Aug. 25 through our website and the generosity of American’s customers to support efforts for recent natural disasters
And, American’s team members are working to provide much needed food to hurricane victims.
In Miami, 200 American team members partnered with Feeding America to pack 5,000 boxes of essential food items.
The kits are being distributed to Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, as well as throughout southern Florida.
Later this month our New York team will partner with Feeding America to assemble at least 5,000 more food boxes, each of which can feed a family of four for two weeks, to be distributed to Banco Alimentos de Puerto Rico.
This week our Chicago team will also work with Feed My Starving Children.
The event is expected to produce 100,000 meals, which will also be delivered to support Puerto Rico recovery efforts.
We have proudly served San Juan and the U.S. Virgin Islands for more than 45 years.
I am humbled by the resiliency and dedication of our teams who have come to work in spite of challenging personal circumstances, and also by many others throughout the world who have stepped up to help their friends in need.
At American, it has been all hands on deck to provide support for these communities that we serve and are proud to call home.
Jim Butler is senior vice president of International and Cargo for American Airlines.