On March 2, 1971 an American Airlines Boeing 707 departed from New York John F. Kennedy International Airport for Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital, operating the...

American Airlines is marking the 40th anniversary of its first service to Haiti.

On March 2, 1971 an American Airlines Boeing 707 departed from New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) for Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, operating the airline’s first flight to Haiti.

Forty years later, American and American Eagle continue to serve Haiti and approximately 140 American Airlines employees are based there.

“All of us at American are proud to commemorate the 40th anniversary of providing air transportation to Haiti,” says Peter Dolara, American’s senior vice president – Mexico, Caribbean and Latin America. “In the past four decades, we have celebrated expanding our service into Haiti, but we’ve also rallied together to help Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake. Our commitment to Haiti has never wavered, and we look forward to celebrating our next 40 years.”

American Airlines operates 58 Boeing 767-300ERs. For many years the 767-300ER has formed the core of American's long-haul fleet. The carrier primarily uses the type on routes to Europe and South America

Today, American Airlines operates six daily nonstop flights to Haiti – three from Miami International Airport, two from Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, and one from New York JFK. American operates flights into Port-au-Prince’s Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport (IATA code PAP) with Boeing 737-800s and 767-300ERs.

American Eagle offers daily service to Port-au-Prince with one flight through Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, using ATR 72-200 turboprops seating 64 passengers.

When an earthquake devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010, American Airlines was the first airline to respond. Starting with the first flight that landed the next day, American Airlines and American Eagle flew 30 missions into Haiti, transporting relief workers, medical personnel, more than 400,000 pounds of humanitarian aid and evacuating more than 700 people.

These special relief flights, which were not a part of American’s normal passenger operations to Haiti, were coordinated in conjunction with relief organizations including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Yele Haiti and Airline Ambassadors International.

In conjunction with the Haitian government and international construction firm Odebrecht, American immediately began the process of repairing its airport facilities at PAP. Odebrecht’s team, along with 30 American employees who became assistants to the construction team, worked around the clock to repair the airline’s Port-au-Prince terminal so that American could resume commercial service less than six weeks later.

Quickly restoring normal airline service was critical to Haiti. American says it has been an important contributor to Haiti’s economic development, flying not just hundreds of thousands of passengers every year, but millions of pounds of cargo, mostly agricultural commodities.

Despite damage at the airport, on the evening of the earthquake American Airlines flew the last commercial passenger flight out of Port-au-Prince. On February 19, 2010, American Airlines Flight 377 from Miami touched down in Port-au-Prince, marking the first commercial passenger flight back into Haiti after the earthquake.

American and American Eagle currently serve 35 destinations throughout the Caribbean – more than any other U.S. airline, they say.

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