The White House can rely on the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, which was established in 1952 to assist the military in emergencies following post-World War II Berlin aviation. The program could facilitate nearly 20 commercial jets from five airlines to help transport evacuees from bases in the region, according to the official.
Another senior official told CNN that commercial jets would not fly into Afghanistan but would instead help transport Afghans from places where they were taken after being evacuated from the country, including US bases in Qatar, Bahrain and Germany. .
At least 26,500 people, including Afghans and foreign nationals, have been evacuated from Afghanistan since the Taliban began its advance on Kabul, according to data analyzed by CNN on Saturday.
A senior official told CNN that the government would first try to get airlines to volunteer planes to help transport Afghan evacuees before they were forced.
“We need every major airline to offer three planes and get a few from FedEx. If they don’t, we can use the law,” the official said.
An aviation industry official said discussions between airlines have been under way since the end of the week on potentially providing assistance for air transport efforts, and they have not ruled out voluntarily offering flights yet.
This official also said that airlines on Friday night received a warning from the government that they could be forced to provide assistance but that the order has not yet come down.
The White House referred to the Committee on Transport Communication for comment. CNN has reached out.
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