By JOAN RAMPERSAD Tuesday, August 14 2007
FOR almost five hours yesterday, operations at Piarco International Airport were grounded with no flights being allowed to leave and none to arrive, after a portion of the runway had to be closed for repairs.
Officials at the Works and Transport Ministry said they were informed by the Airports Authority that a section of the asphalt runway measuring six feet by six feet which had been resurfaced only Sunday night, was apparently damaged and thus rendered the runway dangerous for aircraft landing or taking off.
The runway was closed at 8.40 am to allow Jusamco Pavers Limited workmen time to repair the damaged strip of runway. At 1.42 pm, the runway was cleared and operations at the airport resumed.
However, within the almost five hours that the runway was closed, 13 incoming flights and 18 departures were delayed while four flights were cancelled.
Among flights scheduled for departure which were delayed were Continental flight CO 1879 bound for Newark, US, scheduled to depart at 8.50 am; Primaris flight FE 6103 destined to leave at 9.30 am for New York, Liat LI 718 to St. Vincent at 12.40 pm, Caribbean Airlines BW 600 to Toronto at 1.10 pm and a Travelspan flight XP 95 bound for New York which was scheduled to depart at 3 pm. Aviar Airlines 9V 1202 to Margarita scheduled to leave at 12.20 pm was among the four flights cancelled.
Following the closure of the runway, a release from the Ministry of Works and Transport stated that it intended to pursue all necessary action against the contractor — Jusamco Pavers Limited — in order to avoid a repeat of the incident and to ensure the contractor fulfilled its contractual obligations.
In January, a Government official defended awarding Jusamco the contract to re-pave the Airport despite what the Government official described as sub-standard work previously done.
The re-paving started in March and is expected to finish some time this month, at a cost of $137M.
A release from Ellen Lewis Adamson, Manager (Corporate Communications) at the Airports Authority confirmed the closure adding that the Authority was alerted to the situation following the departure of Caribbean Airlines Flight BW416 at 8.31am en route to Kingston-St Maarten and Barbados.
Following an inspection of the runway by personnel from the TT Civil Aviation Authority and the Airports Authority, a decision was taken to carry out repairs to maintain the safety and integrity of the environment. Asked if this was the same area of the runway which was damaged recently, Adamson said ‘yes’.
This is wanton fockery. Jusamco or fockin Junior Sammy is big time supporters and financiers of the PNM.
They were initially awarded the contract to pave the runway. They fock that up, pilots were complaining that they feel they were landing on ah fockin scrubbin board. You know these PNM fockers give them a bigger contract to repave the same runway and you know they fock that up too.
Lord. Put ah hand, because ah suspect they might get another contract to fix it again.
More fockin money to pump into the PNM coffers.