Definition of airlift in US English:



  • An act of transporting supplies by aircraft, typically in a blockade or other emergency.

    ‘a massive airlift of food, blankets, and medical supplies’
    • ‘He said the agency would identify key routes to be demined to allow deliveries, and was preparing for a possible airlift of food to the worst-hit areas.’
    • ‘However, as she did not have medical insurance, no US hospital would treat her and the British government refused to pay for an emergency airlift back to the UK.’
    • ‘We're moving the different, the airlifts, the evacuations.’
    • ‘First of all, the airlift is the announced airlift - some of it isn't even operational yet.’
    • ‘Using this vital supply route significantly reduces airlift and sealift costs.’
    • ‘Remember all the massive airlifts out of various hospitals and also the New Orleans Airport?’
    • ‘The third airlift was a total disaster, with bundles dropping into enemy hands and planes and gliders crash-landing throughout the area.’
    • ‘Apart from the usual sprains, strains, stings and bouts of homesickness, the medics were involved in organising the emergency airlift of a critically ill cadet.’
    • ‘When he spoke of the tempo of operations, he said the sealift capability was critical to their success over the airlift.’
    • ‘The air force provides U.S. military forces with worldwide strategic airlifts and tactical airlifts of men and materiel, effecting deliveries by both air landing and parachute drop.’
    • ‘Well, this is the first time in the emergency that the World Food Programme has done airlifts of food into some of the worst affected areas.’
    • ‘The area where precious defense resources can be used to best effect is to improve our airlift and sealift capabilities.’
    • ‘And what if you were called upon to signal for an emergency airlift from your PC?’
    • ‘They are huddled in the remaining buildings and relying on airlifts for supplies, since the base's runway was also lost to the deep.’
    • ‘The USA provided assistance in the form of an emergency airlift of food and other essentials known as Operation Provide Relief.’
    • ‘Fresh life is to be breathed into degraded peat moors in the Peak District over the next few weeks by a massive airlift of hundreds of tonnes of heather.’
    • ‘The U.N. announces food airlifts into the west African nation, where more than a million people are at risk now of starvation.’
    • ‘It did not take long before the airlift became a multinational and joint logistics marvel.’
    • ‘I had the opportunity to fly on a transplant airlift.’
    • ‘The military took over the shattered New Orleans airport for emergency airlifts, but special teams of Air Force operators had to be sent in to make it ready.’


[with object]
  • Transport (troops or supplies) by aircraft, typically when transportation by land is difficult.

    ‘helicopters were employed to airlift the troops out of danger’
    • ‘The government has also been airlifting food and non-food supplies to the villages that are not accessible by road.’
    • ‘Food and other supplies were airlifted by national helicopters to the workers.’
    • ‘The damaged aircraft was itself airlifted out of the valley by a giant Chinook military helicopter on Wednesday.’
    • ‘The road was cordoned off by police and Scott was airlifted to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.’
    • ‘A Canadian naval officer has died despite being airlifted from his storm-battered submarine.’
    • ‘The body of the divemaster was airlifted to Larnaca General Hospital.’
    • ‘A badly-injured soldier had to be airlifted to hospital after his car smashed into a lamppost.’
    • ‘Coast Guards airlifted him after he was resuscitated at the scene.’
    • ‘Helicopters and crews able to airlift troops and supplies to get behind the other guy, and to get your guys back out when they need a rest or are too outnumbered.’
    • ‘On Thursday, salvors started moving the marine gas oil into containers on the ship, then airlifting these by helicopter to shore, where it is decanted into a big roadside tanker.’
    • ‘Not only that, but they were the first ever mechanised task force to be airlifted to the region.’
    • ‘Two of the injured officers were airlifted to hospital with head injuries said a police spokesman.’
    • ‘The Ford driver received serious injuries and was airlifted to Middlesbrough General Hospital.’
    • ‘She was airlifted to Airedale General Hospital where she later died.’
    • ‘From here supplies were airlifted to soldiers deployed in the wars in the Balkans and in Afghanistan.’
    • ‘Huge sand bags are being airlifted to try to stem the rush of water in that area.’
    • ‘Before we could reach him he had been airlifted to the neurosurgical unit at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.’
    • ‘Four senior members of the team were quickly flown to where the youth lay and mountain rescuers and helicopter winchman administered first aid treatment to the teenager before airlifting him to Waterford Regional Hospital.’
    • ‘A winchman was lowered from the helicopter and along with paramedics and coastguards assessed her condition before moving her onto a stretcher and airlifting her to hospital in Scarborough.’
    • ‘Their tanks, other vehicles and supplies will be airlifted in behind them.’
    transport by air, transport, move, transfer, fly, convey, shift
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