PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – On March 2, 1971, an American Airlines Boeing 707 aircraft departed from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), headed for Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. When the 707 landed, it marked a major milestone for American – its first flight to Haiti.
Forty years later, American and American Eagle, its regional affiliate, continue to serve Haiti, which is considered one of the airlines’ global “hometowns,” with approximately 140 employees based in the island nation.
“All of us at American are proud to commemorate the 40th anniversary of providing air transportation to Haiti,” said Peter Dolara, American’s Senior Vice President – Mexico, Caribbean and Latin America. “In the past four decades, we have celebrated expanding our service into Haiti, but we’ve also rallied together to help Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake. Our commitment to Haiti has never wavered, and we look forward to celebrating our next 40 years.”
Today, American offers six daily nonstop flights to Haiti – three from Miami International Airport, two from Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, and one from New York’s JFK Airport. American operates flights into Port-au-Prince’s Toussaint Louverture International Airport with its Boeing 737 and 767 aircraft.
American Eagle currently offers daily service to Port-au-Prince with one flight through Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, using its ATR-72 aircraft.
When an earthquake devastated Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, American Airlines was the first on the scene. Starting with the first flight that landed the next day, American Airlines and American Eagle flew 30 missions into Haiti, transporting relief workers, medical personnel, more than 400,000 pounds of humanitarian aid, while evacuating more than 700 people. These special relief flights, which were not a part of normal passenger operations, were coordinated in conjunction with relief organizations including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Yele Haiti and Airline Ambassadors International.
In conjunction with the Haitian government and international construction firm Odebrecht, American immediately began the process of repairing its airport facilities. Odebrecht’s team, along with 30 American employees who became assistants to the construction team, worked around the clock in order to repair the airline’s Port-au-Prince terminal so that American could resume commercial service less than six weeks later.
Quickly restoring normal airline service was critical to Haiti. American has been an important contributor to Haiti’s economic development, flying not just hundreds of thousands of passengers every year, but millions of pounds of cargo, mostly agricultural commodities. Despite damage at the airport, on the evening of the quake American Airlines flew the last commercial passenger flight out of Port-au-Prince. On Feb. 19, 2010, American Airlines Flight 377 from Miami touched down in Port-au-Prince, marking the first commercial passenger flight back into Haiti after the earthquake.