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Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport has begun to come to life over the past two days, not as a passenger airport, but as a transfer point for aid to enter the disaster stricken area. With the rain coming down from the remains of Hurricane Harvey, planes continue to depart and arrive, albeit at a much slower pace.
Since Sunday, airlines including United and Delta have sent planes to the airport carrying supplies, while airlines including them as well as American Airlines and Spirit Airlines have operated flights evacuating personnel and passengers from the area. The airport was cut off for a number of days from the rest of the city, with reports saying the airport was like an “island” surrounded by rainwater.
United Airlines has been at the forefront of the aid delivery effort, sending in multiple flights a day to deliver supplies from its hub at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. United has used its Boeing 767-300ER and Boeing 777-300ER flagship aircraft on these deliveries, notably N2331U, a Boeing 777-300ER which was named “New Spirit of United” upon its delivery last winter to the airline.
— United (@united) August 29, 2017
The airline has a dedicated team in Chicago tasked with organizing delivery of 45,000 pounds of aid to their co-workers in Houston and those affected by Harvey. The aid includes bottled water, food and snacks, wheelchairs and amenity kits, among other unspecified supplies. The supplies are bound for the airport, as well as to shelters around Houston, including the 9,000 people finding refuge at Houston’s main convention center.
On the outbound flights, United has been carrying stranded passengers to Chicago so they can connect to their final destinations on other flights. According to a spokesperson, there were around 200 stranded passengers in Houston as of Monday night, however it is unknown if all are on their way to their final destinations as of today.
Delta sent a Boeing 757-200 from Atlanta on Monday with supplies for the rescue efforts in Houston, and to rescue stranded passengers. Spirit Airlines flew out two Airbus A320 aircraft on Monday to Chicago and Detroit with evacuated passengers onboard.
American Airlines sent a Boeing 757-200 from Dallas on Monday with supplies as well, however the airline said in a statement that the supplies were for its workers in Houston. The airline evacuated over 40 American Airlines and American Eagle workers on the return flight.
American Eagle sent an Embraer E175 filled with 2,000 pounds of supplies to Corpus Christi, Texas for those stationed there as well as to aid the rescue efforts there.
The airport has also been a base of rescue and med-evac operations, with multiple Bell 212 helicopters and Beechcraft King Air turboprops traveling in and out of the airport daily.
At Houston Hobby Airport, Southwest Airlines evacuated almost 500 stranded passengers on Sunday under strenuous circumstances, with airport lights not working and parts of the airport covered in up to four feet of water.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) August 28, 2017
Sources tell Layoverhub that up to seventy-five military and aid flights are expected to operate in and out of Houston tomorrow, however all airports in the city are still closed to scheduled operations. It is also rumored that foreign airlines may start flying in aid from their respective governments as soon as the airport opens on Thursday, however this has not been confirmed by any airline as of yet. Airlines are expected to operate larger aircraft into Houston to rescue passengers and to make up for, in some cases, six days of no operations.
Featured image by United via Twitter