When the US government activates a Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF), can it activate the civilian crew as well, or are they always volunteers?
The Pentagon announced Sunday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the commander of US Transportation Command to initiate stage one of its Civil Reserve Air Fleet to assist with flying US citizens, Special Immigrant Visa applicants and other vulnerable individuals out of Afghanistan.
Austin's directive will activate 18 commercial flights to help with the evacuation efforts: three each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and Omni Air; two from Hawaiian Airlines; and four from United Airlines.
American said it will be ready to deploy "three widebody aircraft," starting Monday, while United Airlines said that it is activating four Boeing 777-300s and still trying to glean the extent of what's expected to be a "small" impact on the rest of its operation.
"The images from Afghanistan are heartbreaking," American said in a statement Sunday.
"The airline is proud and grateful of our pilots and flight attendants, who will be operating these trips to be a part of this life-saving effort."
Atlas Air is "proud to provide" the Pentagon with "essential passenger services in the region at this critical time. We are doing as much as possible to provide the much needed capacity to support the evacuation efforts," a spokesperson for the company told CNN.
Question: When the US government activates a Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF), can it activate the civilian crew as well, or are they always volunteers?
From the Pentagon's announcement linked above:
The current activation is for 18 aircraft: three each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and Omni Air; two from Hawaiian Airlines; and four from United Airlines. The Department does not anticipate a major impact to commercial flights from this activation.
CRAF activated aircraft will not fly into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. They will be used for the onward movement of passengers from temporary safe havens and interim staging bases. Activating CRAF increases passenger movement beyond organic capability and allows military aircraft to focus on operations in and out of in Kabul.