United Airlines has become the first major carrier to volunteer for the United States government’s “Operation Fly Formula” to tackle the current baby formula shortages experienced across the country.
Word from the airline
In a statement released on Wednesday, the White House praised the carrier for its decision to donate flights to import baby formula from the United Kingdom.
“United Airlines has agreed to transport Kendamil formula free of charge from Heathrow Airport in London to multiple airports across the country over a three-week period. These are the first Operation Formula Flight to be donated by an airline carrier.”
“They’re doing it on their own.”
With the shuttering of Michigan’s Abbot Nutrition Plant pending investigation over the death of two infants related to formula production and widespread post-pandemic supply chain issues, the US infant nutrition market has taken a significant hit causing nationwide shortages.
Though stock levels have fluctuated over the past several months, the start of May represented a crisis point after 43% of retailers reported a lack of stock, with that number increasing to over 70% by May 21. Price-gouging and accessibility issues have left families struggling to feed their babies, leading to the government turning to drastic measures to ease the shortages.
Starting June 9, United will transport over 300,000 lbs of UK-produced Kendamil infant formula as part of “Operation Fly Formula,” funded by the Department of Agriculture. The carrier operates around 20 daily flights from London Heathrow to eight cities across America, including major hubs in Chicago, New York, and Denver.
“I want to thank United Airlines for partnering with us to get this done,” added President Joe Biden. “They’re doing it on their own — with the first flight next week, continuing over the next two to three weeks.”
US Cargo carrier, FedEx Express, carried two large shipments of Gerber baby formula from Germany in late May. Photo: FedEx
Cargo carrier FedEx has also been pitching in, delivering two shipments of Gerber baby formula from Ramstein to Washington Dulles on May 22 and 25, pledging to work alongside the US government for additional movements through its extensive air and ground network.
“We at FedEx are honored to be called on to use our network in support of this important mission with the US Government,” noted Richard W. Smith, CEO of FedEx Express. “The lack of access to formula is impacting babies and families across the country, and we are proud to support the distribution of these critical items to deliver hope to those in need.”
Two additional deliveries of 380,000 lbs of Australia’s Bubs formula are expected on June 9 and 11, with the cargo being brought to Pennsylvania and California for distribution across the region.
What do you think of United Airlines’ decision to volunteer for “Operation Fly Formula”? What other carriers would you like to see pitch in? Let us know in the comments.