Right from the outset Air France’s international vocation brought it up against inequality around the world, sometimes prompting it to intervene in the event of health emergencies.
Initially, the general management and the workforce got organized naturally on a case-by-case basis, with no institutional policy to back them up. In March 1959, a cyclone devastated the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar. Local staff provided emergency transport. From Paris, Air France shipped across food, medicines, and clothing. Seven years later another cyclone swept across Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. Here again, Air France intervened. Gradually, individual efforts began to increase in scale. In 1973, flight crews from several airlines set up an NGO that would operate in Africa and Haiti. Initially known as GARD, it was renamed in 2009 as Acting for Life.
In the early 1980s, a group of Air France pilots founded Aviation sans Frontières. In partnership with several other NGOs ASF ships medicines to remote areas, and also transports sick or injured children. In 1992, Air France set up and financed its own Foundation – known as the Air France Foundation – to help sick, disabled, and at-risk children with educational projects. The Company set up programme of humanitarian assistance in order to organize the repatriation of children in urgent need of care and to send out medical teams.
Today, Air France continues to get involved through its Foundation and its support for Acting forlife and for ASF. It operates as a partner for NGOs and agencies running specific programmes.