Delay in resumption of int’l flights from Abaco airport
The Leonard M. Thompson International Airport will not be opened to international flights for at least another two weeks, Aviation Director Algernon Cargill said yesterday.
The government had set a deadline of this weekend for international flights to the airport in Marsh Harbour, Abaco. It was damaged by Hurricane Dorian in early September.
Cargill said the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is coming in there on Tuesday of next week.
“They had to extend their trip so we cannot do anything until the TSA comes in there. So, the deadline is extended.”
He said the TSA’s assessment will take half a day to complete.
Cargill said the TSA has expressed concern with perimeter fencing at the airport as well as screening security equipment.
“They’re coming to do an inspection of the security equipment at the airport or the security program at the airport because the flights are going to the United States,” he said.
“Whenever flights are going to the United States, the TSA has very strict security guidelines. They’re coming to do an inspection to confirm that the level of security we have – given the effects of the storm – is acceptable to them.”
Asked when the airport will be opened for international flights, Cargill replied, “Probably around Thanksgiving.”
He added, “It’s a self-imposed deadline by the prime minister but we cannot move without the TSA’s approval.”
Dorian destroyed thousands of buildings when it struck Abaco and Grand Bahama more than two months ago.
Grand Bahama International Airport was decimated.
Cargill noted that the government does not have oversight of the airport, which is a joint venture between the Grand Bahama Port Authority and Hutchison Port Holdings.
He said, however, that the government is organizing a TSA assessment at the airport to ensure that it meets international security protocol.
Officials at the airport in Freeport had projected that it would start receiving international flights by November 15.
Asked about the likelihood of this deadline being met, Cargill said, “I can’t speak for Freeport, but knowing that the TSA has not been there yet, I don’t think so.”
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice