Airports in Disaster

Improving the delivery of humanitarian aid

Across the world, an increasing number of people are facing the consequences of disasters, whether they are caused by nature or are man-made, affecting the livelihoods of local populations. In the aftermath of a disaster, the delivery of humanitarian aid is often needed to support the affected population. However, the mounting frequency and intensity of disasters provides increasing pressure on humanitarian organizations, and the need of a more effective and efficient humanitarian response is widely recognized.

The role of Airports

Airports typically serve two important roles in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. First, airports are widely used as the main logistical hubs for incoming relief supplies, and provide in this way a lifeline to the affected communities. Second, airports also serve as the (initial) coordination and information center to register, brief and task incoming humanitarian organizations and rescue teams.
In a disaster situation, airports are faced with an overwhelming load on their infrastructure, systems and operations. The increase of incoming and outgoing humanitarian flights to an airport which is not prepared for these activities and volumes, often leads to great difficulties preventing an efficient roll-out of the humanitarian response operations. Moreover, airports may be directly or indirectly affected by the disaster themselves, further limiting their capacity to support the humanitarian response.

Research objective

Airports in Disasters is a multidisciplinary research objective aimed to ensure that airports do not become bottlenecks but contribute to a speedy and efficient disaster response. We aim to examine the airport as connecting element between the needs of the affected region and the supply of humanitarian aid: in terms of aviation, but also (complex) logistics, protective measures (safety, security and medical), international expertise, information, on-site and remote coordination, among others. Bringing together expertise from across all faculties at TU Delft, we aim to examine the current challenges faced by humanitarian responders in order to identify improvements and novel approaches for strengthening airports and the entire humanitarian supply chain as a whole.