Boeing has joined a stream of businesses, well-known figures, and hundreds of thousands of unheralded ordinary folks who have donated to raise some USD$100 million for Australian bushfire victims. The aircraft manufacturer has just announced a donation of AUD$1 million (USD$690,000) to be distributed via the Australian Red Cross.
Area larger than Scotland destroyed
The bushfires, burning since November, have devastated much of south-eastern Australia, burning through some 8.4 million hectares (or an area larger than Scotland). Twenty-five people have been killed and thousands of homes burnt to the ground. Native animal casualties number in the hundreds of millions.
Milder weather and (very) light rain has brought some reprieve this week, but temperatures are due to ramp up and conditions are likely to deteriorate again this weekend.
Some impact on aviation
Smoke haze akin to fog has lingered over much of Australia’s south-east for the last two months, having some impact on aviation. Qantas canceled services to Canberra Airport at one point, following a terrifying landing through pyrocumulus clouds and a unique weather system being generated by one of the fires. Regional Express flights to towns such as Cooma and Merimbula near major fires have been canceled on some days as thick smoke made it too dangerous to fly.
Most critically, air force and charter flights to towns been evacuated have, on occasion, not been able to get through owing to near-zero visibility. Footage of the RAAF trying to land in Mallacoota follows.
▶️ WATCH || They're very challenging and dynamic conditions out there. Even though our crews are highly trained and professional, heavy smoke from bushfires means they’re not always able to complete the mission on the first try.The first part of this video shows the crew of a C-27J Spartan attempting to land at Mallacoota, Victoria where civilians are waiting to be evacuated. Fortunately, our Spartans were eventually able to land and conduct evacuation flights over the weekend.The second part shows the crew of a C-130J Hercules attempting to land at Merimbula, New South Wales to deliver Fire and Rescue NSW personnel – but due to the lack of visibility, were unfortunately not able to land.For updates on #YourADF support visit: http://bit.ly/ADFBushfireSupport#AusAirForce #OpBushfireSupport #AustralianFires
Publisert av Royal Australian Air Force Søndag 5. januar 2020
The damage has been immense but residents whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed have reportedly been deeply grateful for the outpouring of donations.
A big shout out to Boeing
Boeing, when making its donation, noted Australia is the company’s largest footprint outside the US. It’s interim President and Chief Executive Officer, Greg Smith, said in a statement;
“Boeing’s global team, including our 3,800 employees across Australia, are deeply saddened by the tragic impact of the Australian bushfires.
Through our partnership with the Australian Red Cross, we are working quickly to bring recovery and relief efforts to those residents most impacted by these devastating fires.”
Boeing has copped a hiding in the media for much of the last year, but this is a big shout out of thanks to Boeing for doing this.
Except for some parts, country still open for business
One of the side effects of the fires is the downturn in visitor numbers. Tourist authorities are reporting significant cancellations, even in areas not affected by the fires. This in part is due to a lot of misreporting. While a lot of land is burnt out, it is mostly bushland / national parks and small towns adjacent to or in the bush.
Large urban areas and the cities, other than a lot of smoke and the occasional smell of burning bush, are unaffected and open for business as usual.
Visitors flying in won’t get the usual vistas as they come into Sydney over the harbor, and flights around the south east are mostly above a cloud of haze, but local authorities are urging people not to cancel travel unless that are destined for spots like Mallacoota, Kangaroo Island (where the fabulous Southern Ocean Lodge was burnt out) and the Monaro.
Anyway, the donations are still coming in from everywhere, big and small. I reckon when you’re standing in the charred ruins of your home, knowing people and businesses like Boeing give a damn and will pull out their wallets – that must mean a lot.