In our fast paced competitive industry it is good to know that there is still time to give a thought for those less fortunate than ourselves. Jo Austin gets charitable
We’re all used to airline crew appealing inflight to passengers to pass on their spare change to charity but beyond this there is much being done by airlines and their suppliers to support charitable endeavours.
Whether it be supporting charity messaging through amenity kits, selecting buy-on-board products that do good, finding useful post-life purposes for products or including charitable initiatives in the supply chain, the impact can be significant for both the carrier and the charity.
Qatar Airlines and American Airlines have both supported Breast Cancer Awareness. Qatar did it by working with amenity kit specialist FORMIA to present First and Business long-haul passengers with a Bric’s limited-edition themed amenity kit featuring the iconic breast cancer pink ribbon. Each kit carries the message: ‘Support the fight and think pink’. Meanwhile, American pushed out the message Stand Up for Cancer across a range of touchpoints.
Airlines are often first on the charitable scene in a crisis too, be it a hurricane in the Caribbean or, most recently, the bush fires in Australia. Qantas’ LA team donated 100,000 face masks through
@Direct Relief and $1 million cash for Australian wildlife; while American Airlines said it would give AAdvantage miles to anyone who donated to the Red Cross activities supporting people impacted by the fires.
Similarly, WESSCO supported the American Red Cross in its efforts to help families fleeing Californian wildfires, supporting recovery initiatives and projects to build more resilience against future disasters.
MNH Sustainable Cabin Services, in partnership with Qantas and its laundry partners, has been donating end-of-life blankets and linen from the airline to animal welfare charities who make protective wear for koala paws damaged in the bushfires (while also diverting tonnes of textiles from landfill). MNH regularly donates end-of-life textiles from Qantas and last year in Australia alone 16.5 tonnes of textiles were donated to regional indigenous charities and over 35,000 end-of-life blankets, duvets and pillows went to local animal welfare charities.
For Mark Russell, ceo of Linstol, supporting the Starkey Hearing Foundation has become a
passion particularly relevant for a big supplier of inflight headsets.
Says Russell: “We initially paired up with the Starkey Hearing Foundation through our partnership with LSTN headphones and Delta Airlines. LSTN has provided hearing aids to more than 22,000 people worldwide and Delta has helped further by flying the charity’s employees around the world.”
In advance of the partnership launch, Delta and LSTN sponsored a mission with Starkey Hearing Foundation in Peru to fit and distribute hearing aids to those in need and Russell was invited to join them to see the work in action.
“The trip to Arequipa, Peru was life-changing for me,” he says. “I was on a two-day hearing mission where we helped over 400 people. I met an incredible woman who hadn’t heard in a very long time. I fitted her with hearing aids and it was a very emotional moment for both of us. As is so often the case when we help others, we realise the reality is they are actually helping us.
“We provide millions of headsets and earbuds to clients around the world so the tie up with the Foundation makes obvious sense. We supply the best global airlines so working with a charitable foundation that has a global footprint fits our customer profile too. I expect to be announcing another global partnership with Starkey this spring. Starkey’s mantra is “Alone we can’t do much. Together we can change the world.”
Linstol has also partnered with non-profit organisations to recycle and refurbish unused items to help those in need, give back to local communities and keep material out of landfill.
MNH also partners with specialist workforces from disabled communities and the prison sector to deliver laundry, headset and amenity kit servicing solutions for Virgin Atlantic and Qantas. Part of the payment goes to the individual, part to the organisation and MNH is a ‘Positive About Disabled People‘ accredited employer.
Similarly, Galileo Watermark partnered with social enterprise Envera to pack amenity kits for Iberia. Founded by Iberia staff who had children with learning disabilities, Envera’s mission supports therapeutic care, training, work opportunities and living assistance through centres across Spain and provides stable employment for more than 1,000 workers.
BlueBox Aviation has put its charitable shoulder behind initiatives to help the blind. Working with Virgin Atlantic and representatives from Guide Dogs For The Blind, an accessible IFE platform was developed so that rather than using a traditional screen reader function, film synopses are read out after a single tap of the film title. United also made such accessibility a priority, working with relevant communities to perfect its IFE innovations for a range of disabilities.
With the long term in mind, En Route’s head of procurement Martin Hambleton, says: “For us, it is important that our community or charity-based activity is focused on sustainable outcomes.
“Through a partnership with Thirsty Planet, a guaranteed, fixed donation is made to Pump Aid with every Thirsty Planet cuplet sold onboard. So far that has bought more than 5,000 people access to clean, safe drinking water for life.” En Route sales have also enabled 52 elephant pumps to be built in villages across the Mchinji district of Malawi. “Each elephant pump supplies clean water to more than 500 people, which means many surrounding rural communities benefit from the pumps in addition to each village.”
Through Retail inMotion, Airline SunExpress’ inflight programme features a ‘We Care’ range including Nucao chocolates, for which the manufacturer plants a tree with every bar sold; and skin products from The Kind Company, which donates 5% of its proceeds to projects in Africa.
Big brands are also doing their bit. McVities, for example, aligns its efforts to mental health challenges in a campaign headed ‘happiness with every drink’. The company has a mental health training plan and believes a biscuit, drink and chat can help workers through challenging times.
Tackling airline surplus food issues head on, Qatar Aircraft Catering Company (QACC) in Doha has an initiative with a local Qatari charity, Hifz Al Naema, to redistribute surplus F&B to regional good causes.The initiative expects to redistribute 200-300kg of food and beverage every day including whole fruits, cereals, soft drinks, yoghurt and chocolates.
QACC svp, Michael Winner, says: “This partnership ensures unserved or unopened items are redistributed to those in need and reduces wastage to landfill.”
Youssef Al-Khulaifi, for the charity, adds: “Given the enormous scale of its operations, the redistribution of QACC’s surplus F&B will have a significant positive impact on those in most need.”
Sustainability is high on every airline’s agenda and while the problem can seem immense, small steps really can start to make a difference.
Air Tahiti Nui, for example, has taken its sustainable charity link to the children within its kids kit. These now include an activity book telling the story of the blacktip reef shark found in French Polynesian waters. The book has been created in partnership with Te Mana O Te Moana, a non-profit organisation dedicated to ocean preservation.
Similarly, Air Caraibes is working in partnership with Wings of the Ocean through its environment-friendly amenity pouch. The company has pledged 3% of sales revenue generated from the collection to support the charity which is dedicated to collecting plastic waste and ghost nets from the sea.
Well established in the educational field is the IFSA Foundation, which helps employees of IFSA member companies and their families pursue further education by covering tuition, books and other educational costs. WESSCO is among those supporting this. It’s all about giving something back.