28 flights to MBJ cancelled
Only three airlines were able to able to land at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay this morning, as plans by air traffic controllers to lock the country’s airspace goes into full mode.
Frontier out of Atlanta, Sun Wing from Toronto, and American Airlines from Miami were early, arriving in the tourism capital, but the latter is expected to return to the United States of America empty.
The other 28 flights that were scheduled to arrive in the resort town have been cancelled. It remains unclear when the controllers will return to work, however, highly placed sources say the industrial action will last until 7:00 am Friday.
MBJ Airports Limited’s Sharon Hislop confirmed that an American Airlines flight that was enroute from John F Kennedy was diverted to Miami, and their Charlotte, North Carolina plane turned back. While Air Canada which was enroute to the island was also forced to return to Toronto.
As the island’s Air Traffic Controllers stay off the job, their absence will cause suspension of services to the Sangster International and Norman Manley airports as of 10:00 am today.
Both of the island’s international airports were advised in a letter signed by Howard Greaves, director, of air traffic management at the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) this morning, that owing to limited staffing available to work at the Kingston Air Traffic Control Centre (KATCC), the JCAA was forced to suspend services.
This he said will impact all arrivals and departures into NMIA and SIA.
“We will return to normal operations when the situation is resolved,” he noted.
The controllers have been in a dispute with the Ministry of Finance for months, owing to a fallout in salary negotiations between them and the government. Three weeks ago they reportedly went on sick out at the Sangster International Airport, and two nights ago repeated their silent protest.
The Star will continue to update this story.
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