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Government announces reopening of airport


Government announces reopening of airport
Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins. (GP)

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Grantley Adams International Airport welcomed back flights for the first time in a week from 6 p.m. on Friday.

Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins said this comes after an “intense” clean-up operation at the island’s only airport following the ash fall from the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano in neighbouring St Vincent, that forced its closure.

Cummins said the reopening of the airport was not only important to the economy of Barbados, but it was also critical to relief efforts into St Vincent.

“This was a complex and extensive operation that spanned the entire area of the airport,” she said from the facility during a Government virtual media briefing.

“All of our physical land space and our airfields, as well as our [information technology] capabilities, our satellite [dishes] and air traffic control capabilities, and our off-site locations, which are responsible for guiding planes safely in and around our airspace.”

She said: “I wish to express the appreciation of the Government and Prime Minister [Mia] Mottley in particular has asked that we express her heartfelt appreciation for every one of the major construction companies in Barbados that showed up here over the last few days to support this clean-up operation on this facility.

“Every company was here and worked throughout the night into the early morning to be able to get us to a place where [on Friday] at 6 a.m., we began the process of inspecting the airfield and all of our communications equipment, and that process continued throughout the day and we are now in the process of finalising the arrangements.”

The clean-up at the airport started on Thursday, after Mottley said several construction companies in the island had been assigned the task to complete the work, so the facility could reopen before this weekend.

“The airspace has been given the all-clear, the upper airspace and the lower airspace,” Cummins said.

“We are still dealing with the reports from the Met Office of some Sahara dust and some haze, but the volcanic ash that was compromising visibility in our airspace has since [receded].”

She said: “The expectation is there will be some commercial activity commencing [on Saturday]. We have communicated with the airlines and they will be making arrangements to get into contact with their passengers.

“Humanitarian flights servicing St Vincent, more importantly, will be able to use Barbados as a landing base to [meet] the needs of our brothers and sisters in St Vincent, who will benefit significantly.”

Cummins said maintenance will continue at the airport to ensure the safety of staff, planes and other critical equipment, and she expected a humanitarian flight to leave late on Friday to carry relief supplies to the volcano-hit island.

(AR)