Local air transport is the last link in the air transport chain, the link that brings in emergency aid and environmental protection staff to the rural runways closest to isolated groups and endangered regions when the roads are impassable, non-existent or too insecure.
Providing people access with ASF-Belgium
Opening up protected areas with ASF-Belgium,
Air transport from the centre to the periphery
Local air transport consists of transporting humanitarian and development staff on 5- to 19-seat single-engine and twin-engine aircraft from the capital of the country or province to the capitals of districts and outlying bush runways. This can be done within a radius of 500-1,000 km and in a difficult environment for air operations. It is primarily operated by the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) and the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Office (ECHO FLIGHT).
Enlarging the humanitarian operating environment in two senses: access and security
This type of transport contributes to enlarging the humanitarian operating environment required by field-based humanitarian stakeholders to carry out their mission to the best of their ability. This is enlarged in two senses: access, to get past difficult terrain, and the security of staff, given the risks of land transport in these areas. It is organised based on regular scheduled flights.
ASF-Belgium and the third dimension of the humanitarian operating environment: operational flexibility
An NGO at heart, ASF has established a very close link with stakeholders in the field. This allows us to offer a third dimension to the humanitarian operating environment: operational flexibility. This is necessary for NGOs to continue adapting to changes even when their capacity to intervene is limited by the strictness of scheduled regular flights. ASF provides this flexibility thanks to participatory management of flights justified exclusive to NGO demand and on a humanitarian basis, even if they are not commercially viable (e.g. due to the aircraft occupancy rate).
Acquiring airline status
In line with changes in European aviation regulations, ASF-Belgium must now operate as an airline and has obtained an Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) and operating licence from the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA). The BCAA now requires that humanitarian air operations be compliant with the AOC, which is normally required under the highly regulated framework of commercial air transport.
Emergence of a fourth dimension in the humanitarian operating environment: independence and neutrality.
The United Nations now integrate their humanitarian, political and military operations, which is leading NGOs using the United Nations Air Transport Service to fear it will become an amalgam, a mix of genres. Not only do the United Nations take part in the conflict with their peacekeeping or peace enforcement forces, but the same forces implement these “humanitarian” projects to encourage sympathy from local populations. Therefore, NGOs are increasingly seeking neutral and independent humanitarian air operators. It’s not just a question of policy, but also security.