Delta donates airlift capacity for Operation Fly Formula


Delta Air Lines will fly infant formula from the UK to Boston and Detroit for free this month on scheduled passenger flights, reflecting the public service provided by United Airlines to help the US government ease an ongoing domestic shortage.

The Department of Health and Human Services has made arrangements for Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) to carry shipments from London Heathrow Airport to Boston’s Logan Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Airport between June 20 and 24, the White House announced Friday afternoon.

The 13 widebody flights donated by Delta will carry more than 212,000 pounds of Kendamil formula, enough to make 3.2 million 8-ounce bottles.

Kendamil Organic and Classic formula, made available through Operation Fly Formula, will be distributed and available for purchase at select US retailers nationwide, as well as online. The Food and Drug Administration exercises its discretion so that Kendamil can export at least 2 million boxes of Kendamil infant formula, equivalent to at least 54 million 8-ounce bottles in the United States.

The U.S. waives strict import rules as long as foreign brands have a strong inspection security track record and the formula meets testing and other criteria.

The FDA also said on Friday that it paved the way for Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) in Spain to ship three types of Similac brand infant formula to the United States

On Thursday, the first shipment of 3.7 million bottle equivalents of Kendamil infant formula landed at Dulles Airport in Virginia aboard a donated United Airlines (NASDAQ: LAU) flight. A FedEx cargo ship under contract with the Department of Defense also brought a shipment of Nestlé Formula from Germany to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

Operation Fly Formula is an emergency airlift organized by the Biden administration to expedite the delivery of infant formula overseas that meets U.S. safety standards. The program was initially set up to rely on Department of Defense contract carriers, but Delta and United offered their services directly to HHS.

A total of four Operational Fly Formula flights have arrived so far, including another FedEx flight and another operated by the US Air Force.

On Thursday, the FDA said it was also relaxing the import requirements for Nestlé NAN Expert Pro Sensi Pro, a general formula, after reviewing the company’s testing, labeling and production procedures, as well as its inspection history. HHS is evaluating options to get the product, which will be sold online at Gerber.com, to the United States as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, an HHS spokesperson said flights carrying 380,000 pounds of Bubs Australia infant formula – enough for 4.6 million bottles – from Melbourne to Los Angeles and Columbus, Ohio, are now scheduled to arrive on Sunday and next Thursday. Shipment to Rickenbacker Airport in Columbus will be trucked to Nestlé’s facility in Pennsylvania. The White House previously said shipments were scheduled for Thursday and Saturday and did not name specific destinations.

Biden administration’s whole-of-government approach to boost supply of formulas, which ran out after plant temporarily closed due to contamination concerns, includes invoking Defense Production Act to ensure that suppliers prioritize certain ingredients for formula manufacturers. Two manufacturers and a major distributor are now able to add legally binding language to their contracts with suppliers to gain priority access to ingredients.

More FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.

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