American Airlines, which is based in Fort Worth, was one of six airlines called on Sunday by the Pentagon to help evacuate Afghanistan refugees.
Starting Monday, the airline will send three aircraft to the Arabian Peninsula and Europe to help with the emergency evacuation of U.S. citizens and refugees in Kabul, the airline said in a statement. American Airlines is part of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, a group of airlines that is committed to help the U.S. Department of Defense when needed.
The airline said it “is proud to fulfill its duty to help the U.S. military scale this humanitarian and diplomatic rescue mission.”
“The images from Afghanistan are heartbreaking,” the statement said. “The airline is proud and grateful of our pilots and flight attendants, who will be operating these trips to be a part of this life-saving effort.”
The airline said it will work to minimize the impact on customers as it removes the three airplanes from civilian operation.
People have been forced from their homes in Afghanistan since the beginning of the year, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). About 80% of nearly a quarter of a million Afghans forced to flee since the end of May are women and children, the organization says. The refugee crisis has only worsened since the Taliban overtook Kabul, forcing many to flee in order to escape Taliban rule.