By Dillon Thomas

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado-based airline pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and other workers have been asked to help evacuate civilians, federal employees and military members from Afghanistan as the United States continues its withdrawal from Afghanistan. The “Civil Reserve Air Fleet” has been ordered by the Pentagon. It’s a nearly 70-year-old program which calls on commercial airlines in the United States to provide their services to the federal government during a time of crisis.

(credit: United Airlines)

Of the airlines the serve Denver International Airport, United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Airlines were those the Pentagon tapped for assistance moving thousands of Afghan evacuees, U.S. military members and more.

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CBS4’s Dillon Thomas has confirmed airline employees in Denver were requested to volunteer to make the missions possible. Flights from the CRAF will not service the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Rather, they will fly to airports and military bases throughout the Arabian Peninsula and Europe. From there, they will help transport people either to the United States or to other necessary destinations away from Afghanistan.

United Airlines was among the first to complete a flight for the CRAF.

The flight, which landed at Washington Dulles, carried almost 340 U.S. military personnel and Afghan evacuees. Those on the flight were greeted with food, water and clothing supplies while they awaited official entry to the United States.

(credit: United Airlines)

United Airlines confirmed staff in Colorado volunteered to participate in the CRAF. However, at this time, a spokesperson with United could not confirm if Denver-based crew were involved in the first flights. However, the company told Thomas that more than 8,000 employees from across the nation volunteered to help with the mission.

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United employees who volunteered to participate also offered to translate with languages like Dari, Farsi and Pashtu. United expected to continue flights for CRAF for at least the next several days.

In a statement issued to CBS4, American Airlines confirmed their participation in the CRAF and said the company was “proud to fulfill its duty to help the U.S. military scale this humanitarian and diplomatic rescue mission.”

American Airlines said they were working to assure their participation in the CRAF wouldn’t impact domestic flights.

Delta Airlines declined to interview on their participation. Via written statement, Delta Chief of Operations John Laughter acknowledged their intent to provide their airline as a tool.

“For decades, Delta has actively played a role in supporting the U.S. military and our troops,” Laughter wrote. “And we are again proud to pledge Delta people and our aircraft in support of our country’s efforts.”

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The last time the CRAF was enacted was in 2002 when Operation Iraqi Freedom was ramping up.

Dillon Thomas