East Timor

After the UN administered referendum in 1999, East Timor suffered serious conflict and destruction of infrastructure throughout. With International assistance, stability was restored, and the country gained its independence in May 2002.


However, East Timor remains a nation with many needs. Isolated communities in outer regions have very limited access to many of life's essentials. Surface transport can be slow and dangerous with narrow, winding roads that often become impassable. For many of the almost 1 million people in this small, new nation, life can be very difficult.

In 2003 we made a survey of East Timor to determine the extent to which a MAF aircraft could help in the general rebuilding of the country and improve access to isolated communities. The survey concluded that a MAF service was not necessary while the significant United Nations (UNMISET) aircraft were available.

After UNMISET withdrew, we made another survey in November 2005. Many meetings with government and non-government organisations revealed that a MAF air service would help a large number of Timorese. A submission to the East Timor Ministry of Communications and Transport in February 2006 requesting permission to conduct flight operations in country was approved.

We were able to commence operations in East Timor (July 2007) after receiving a large anonymous donation late 2006 to purchase an aircraft and cover the cost of the first year of operation. The operation enables better access to outlying communities and as the service grows, we will work closely with:

  • The East Timor Ministry of Health to provide transport for medical personnel to outlying communities, and medical evacuations for patients back to hospital in Dili.
  • The NGO (non-governmental organisation) community to better support access and supervision of a wide range of development projects underway around the country.


Examples of organisations flown by MAF in East Timor:

  • CARE International
  • Caritas (Catholic Relief and Development)
  • Ministry of Health
  • World Health Organisation (WHO)
  • Oxfam Australia
  • PLAN International
  • Tearfund
  • Youth With A Mission (YWAM)
  • The Leprosy Mission International

East Timor Country Profile

More on East Timor
Latest on East Timor on our website
  • Elzita and her twins a week after the medevac
    East Timor Medevac – Twice the Joy

    (05 Mar 2013)

    23 year-old Elizita Cardoso was looking forward to the arrival of her twin babies. But faced with life-threatening complications and a nine-hour journey by road, she needed MAF. The outcome?

  • Monday's flight
    Monday to Friday blessings in East Timor

    (24 Aug 2012)

    It's Friday, and the end of another full working week of flying for life for MAF in East Timor, a small mountainous nation with great needs. This diary shows how, using our GA8 Airvan aircraft, pilot Jonathan Lowe could overcome the barriers of mountains and a weak infrastructure to enable our passengers - some involved in medical, development and education work, others needing urgent medical attention - to get to their destinations safely and quickly.

  • GA8 Airvan in East Timor
    Ready for the unexpected in East Timor

    (20 Apr 2012)

    MAF had to be ready for the unexpected during the recent presidential elections in East Timor.

  • Hunger on our doorstep

    (23 Dec 2011)

    Report by David Henry looking how MAF is working hard with partner agencies to address severe malnutrition levels among children in East Timor.

Mission Aviation Fellowship

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