Maximus Air Cargo is keen to expand a humanitarian aid concept centred on reducing airlift costs and extend it to utilising spare capacity on flights.

It is hoping to add a logistics company to its "Care by Air" programme, which includes a small group of partners - among them the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent and Abu Dhabi's airport operator.

Maximus started the programme in 2009, said chief executive Fathi Buhazza, after the profitability of an air bridge to transport supplies to a Pakistan earthquake zone drew criticism.

"They said: 'You're making money out of people's misery'," Buhazza admitted. "That prompted us to practise corporate social responsibility."

Buhazza believes that, properly administered, the Care by Air scheme could be "one of the best things in the cargo industry".

The programme involves operating humanitarian flights at cost, writing off a 10-15% profit margin. Buhazza said this does not adversely affect the business, if the right balance is achieved, and pointed out: "The more you fly, the more efficient you are."

"It's healthy and sustainable," he said. "You don't lose, because you're operating at cost. We're slowly trying to develop this initiative."

Buhazza believes a large proportion of humanitarian funding ends up diverted to logistics costs, and said the Care by Air scheme can reduce unnecessary expenditure by cutting landing charges and even potentially waiving overflight fees.

He added that the programme could also make better use of unfilled capacity on passenger aircraft, eliminating the reliance on dedicated freighters.

Source: Flight Daily News