This story was originally written by our good friend Chris Sloan and published on AirwaysMag.com. To help, be sure to read the story below and donate to the cause.
On Tuesday and Friday, because of the generosity of your donations to Operation: Puerto Rico Care-Lift and AirwaysAid 22,000 pounds of supplies were flown into Aguadilla, Puerto Rico (PR). This is the northwest corner of the island that is cut off from San Juan. The airport infrastructure is quite damaged and not open to commercial flights.
However, we were able to work with the miracle-working partners at Spirit Airlines and Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico who made this special relief flight possible — the biggest relief flight into PR’s second largest airport as of Friday. A Lufthansa Cargo MD-11 has since arrived on Saturday with even more aid. Lufthansa Technik is not only instrumental in handling some logistics for us, but amazingly was already operational again undertaking MRO work.
Flying a fully loaded 228 passenger stretch Airbus A321 is an expensive endeavor under normal conditions and this operation was anything but normal. The logistics and clearances Spirit and Operation Care-Lift faced were daunting. But, Spirit Airlines has shown their true colors with this second relief flight into Aguadilla alone, on top of others into St. Maarten and St. Thomas, USVI.
A Spirit Airlines Airbus A319 is in the background with the Lufthansa Orchestra playing
I have had the pleasure of checking out Lufthansa Technik (aka MRO – maintenance services) in both Frankfurt and more recently in Hamburg. I was curious about why they were starting operations in at Rafael Hernández Airport (BQN) in Puerto Rico, which is about two hours west of San Juan.
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The schedule for celebration included a concert on the evening of Halloween and a less formal event the next day, with a visit from Puerto Rico’s Governor Alejandro García Padilla. The Lufthansa Orchestra was part of both days and they don’t just play for any ol’ event. In fact, this was the first time they have played outside of Europe.
Why was this so important? I wasn’t exactly sure before my trip, but after talking to quite a few people and seeing the facility myself, I was impressed with the positive impact the new operation would have on aviation in the region and even more so, the people of Puerto Rico.