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Pentagon asks commercial airlines to assist Afghanistan evacuation efforts

The Pentagon said Sunday it is formally seeking assistance from commercial airlines to help relocate evacuees from Afghanistan.

Driving the news: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has activated the first stage of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF), asking 18 commercial aircraft from several airlines to support the U.S. military in its efforts to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies. It's the third time a CRAF was activated in the program's history.

The big picture: The Biden administration has vowed to use "every means" to evacuate at-risk individuals amid reports of a deteriorating situation at Kabul's airport.

  • The Pentagon had issued a warning order to commercial airlines Saturday.

Details: The activation formally requests three aircraft each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and Omni Air; two from Hawaiian Airlines and four from United airlines.

  • The commercial aircraft would not fly into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, but instead solely focus on evacuees who have already gotten out of the country, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in an emailed statement.
  • Kirby added that that the department does not anticipate a major impact on commercial flights.

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