An American Airlines jet about to land at the Grantley Adams International Airport. (Picture by Sandy Pitt.)
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Barbados will lose one of its three daily American Airlines flights out of Miami, but Minister of Tourism and International Transport Kerrie Symmonds said yesterday the fallout was less than expected when the United States grounded all Boeing 737 Max aircraft.
Symmonds told Starcom Network they had dialogue with American, which confirmed the change in schedule would now be the 10:57 a.m. and 6 p.m. flights leaving Miami, Florida.
On Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all United States-registered Boeing 737 Max aircraft, including the 8 and 9 variants as a precautionary measure, after separate deadly crashes in October last year and earlier this month.
Symmonds said American was the only airline flying that aircraft into Barbados.
“American has about 26 of them in operation and they have confirmed that at least until the 24th of March, those planes will be grounded so as to ensure a proper diagnostic is done,” he said.
He noted that one vessel was grounded in Barbados and would remain so until the diagnostics were completed. He said a technical team would then be flown to the island, but in the interim the plane had been placed on a stand at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA).
The American flight out of Charlotte would be used to ferry passengers from Barbados and, if necessary, Symmonds said they might have to engage JetBlue.
He said connectivity was the greater issue for Barbados because the 737 Max was used to transport domestic passengers within Canada and the United States.
“The challenge that we probably will have is the ability of people leaving one part of Canada or another part of the United States in order to make the connections to the gateways that bring them to Barbados. And that obviously is something that is beyond our control at this stage because nobody expected this development.”
Meanwhile, the scores of American Airlines passengers who were stranded at the airport on Wednesday were finally able to leave Barbados yesterday.
Deputy chief executive officer at GAIA, Terry Layne, said provisions were made for them on the specially rerouted Flight 562 from North Carolina and the familiar 1089 to Miami.
“There was no overly significant backlog of customers from the cancellations yesterday [Wednesday] and they were accommodated on the flight that came in as usual, as well as the Charlotte flight,” Layne said.
Earlier this month 157 people on board an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi were killed. This was the second crash in which the 737 Max 8 model was involved in less than five months. In October 189 people died after a Lion Air crashed just after take-off from Indonesia. (SAT/TG)