Defense secretary orders emergency use of 18 US commercial aircrafts to transport Afghan evacuees

On Sunday, defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the emergency use of 18 U.S. commercial aircrafts to transport Afghan evacuees out of Kabul. The U.S. continues to evacuate Americans and Afghan people with special immigrant visas, a week since the Taliban entered Afghanistan’s capital city and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled. Seventeen thousand people have been taken out of Afghanistan in the past week; however, the scene at Hamid Karzai International Airport remains chaotic.

The Defense Department is acting under Stage I of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) and confirmed the commercial aircraft wouldn’t be flying in and out of Kabul.  Instead, officials say the planes will move evacuees “from bases in Germany, Qatar and Bahrain to ease overcrowding pressure and transport bottlenecks.”

Among the airlines who will provide commercial aircrafts are American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and Omni Air, each of which will contribute three planes; Hawaiian Airlines, which will contribute two; and United Airlines, four.

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