September 26, 2021

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Biden administration activates Civil Reserve Air Fleet, ordering U.S. commercial airlines assist in the airlift of U.S. citizens and Afghans from Afghanistan – CNBC

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An American airlines Airbus A321-200 approaches Washington Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Arlington, Virginia on February 24, 2021.

Daniel Slim | AFP | Getty Images

The Biden administration on Sunday activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, ordering U.S. commercial airlines to provide flights for the Afghanistan evacuation efforts.

The CRAF is a nearly 70-year-old program created in the wake of the Berlin airlift to provide a backup by commercial air carriers for a “major national defense emergency.”

The 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 flights would not fly into Afghanistan but instead would be used to transport those who have already been flown out of the country. These routes could include flying individuals who are stranded at U.S. bases in Germany, Qatar and Bahrain, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news.

This is the third CRAF activation in the history of the program. The first happened during Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1990 and 1991, and the second was for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2002 and 2003.

CNBC’s Leslie Josephs and Brian Schwartz contributed to this report.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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