United Air, Delta donate flights for reunited immigrant families

A United Airlines Boeing 767-322(ER) aircraft takes off from Zurich Airport. (Reuters pic)

NEW YORK: Delta Air Lines Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc. are offering free flights for immigrant families detained and separated under President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” crackdown on illegal border crossings.

The airlines are providing vouchers for one-way domestic service so that parents and children that have been released can travel to sponsors or relatives in the US. A federal court ordered the government to reunite the families by July 26. After that, the families are responsible for any transportation costs.

“United is in a unique position to provide badly needed support that few can provide to help reunify these families, and we take pride in doing our part to connect people and unite the world,” the Chicago-based airline said in a statement. Delta said it was “providing travel assistance to help charitable organizations working to reunite children with their parents.”

The flight programs are being coordinated by the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), FWD.us and other advocacy groups. FWD.us says it plans to fly 600 to 1,000 reunited families on United flights through August 4, and longer if necessary.

“All of these aeroplane tickets are same day or 24 hours out, they’re incredibly expensive,” FWD.us president Todd Schulte said.

United, American Airlines Group Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co. asked the federal government last month not to use their aircraft to transport children that were being separated from their parents.