DestinationsTurkish Airlines, Pegasus Airlines, Intrepid Travel and BWH Hotel Group among travel companies sending assistance to quake-struck communities.

Travel industry aids earthquake recovery in Turkey and Syria

Rescuers and volunteers are working through the night to extricate victims trapped in rubble.
Rescuers and volunteers are working through the night to extricate victims trapped in rubble. Photo Credit: Adobestock/Mehmet

More than 11,000 people have died from the devastating earthquakes that struck southern Turkey and northern Syria on 6 February, with the death toll expected to continue climbing as rescuers race to find survivors.

As aid organisations and volunteers work tirelessly to provide assistance to those affected by the earthquake, the global travel community has been quick to rally around the affected regions to provide aid and support to the communities impacted by the earthquakes.

One travel company that has stepped up to help is Turkish Airlines. The airline has set a fixed airfare of TL100 (US$5.30) for those seeking to travel in and out of the region to assist with earthquake aid efforts.

Coordinating with the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), Turkish Airlines flew in around 12,000 volunteers on its 80 diverted relief flights on Tuesday, 7 February.

"About 11,780 of our volunteer citizens who came to our airports to go to the earthquake zone following the invitation of AFAD, were taken to Adana, Gaziantep, Adiyaman and Urfa with a total of 80 flights this morning [7 February] until 7am," said Bilal Ekşi, CEO of Turkish Airlines.

Another one to respond to the efforts is Pegasus Airlines which will be providing free direct domestic flights to those affected by the recent earthquake in Turkey from 7-12 February 2023 for departures from Adana, Diyarbakır, Elazığ, Gaziantep, Kayseri, Malatya, and Şanlıurfa.

In addition to the free flights, Pegasus has also made a donation of TL 5 million (US$265,000) to AFAD (Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency) and TL 3 million (US$159,000) to the Ahbap Association on behalf of its employees. The airline has also made efforts to help animals affected by the earthquake by providing pet carriers in its aircraft cabins to airports located in the earthquake-affected regions.

Individuals wishing to send aid and relief equipment to the earthquake-affected regions can coordinate with Kızılay (The Turkish Red Crescent) and local authorities to deliver the aid to Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport, which will be transported free of charge on Pegasus aircraft.

Australia-based tour operator Intrepid Travel is also taking action to help those affected by the earthquakes with a donation of AU$100,000 (US$70,000), and further donating all profits from tour bookings in Turkey until 30 April 2023.

The tour operator's nonprofit arm, Intrepid Foundation, has also partnered with the Australian Red Cross to ensure funds garnered from its Turkiye and Syria Earthquake Appeal are effectively allocated.

The BWH Hotel Group has also rose to the occasion. Through its charitable arm, Best Western for a Better World, the company is working to provide support to those affected by the disaster as well as ensuring the safety of its hoteliers and their teams in the region.

President and CEO of BWH Hotel Group Larry Cuculic, expressed his sentiments on the disaster, saying "It is heartbreaking to witness the destruction in Turkey and Syria in the wake of an unthinkable tragedy. On behalf of the entire BWH Hotel Group family, our hearts are with all whose lives will be forever changed by this devastating event."

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