“Sick” Air Traffic Controllers Shut Down Philip Goldson International Airport
Saturday, February 21st, 2015
At approximately 9AM Saturday, February 21st The San Pedro Sun received word that the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport was closed to air traffic. Reports were that several calls from employees of the Civil Aviation Authority, specifically Air Control staff had called in sick. Incoming international flights were diverted, with a Delta Airline flight from Los Angeles, California USA containing 150 passengers ending up in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
In a brief press meeting at 11 AM the CEO of Civil Aviation Mr. Lindsay Garbutt indicated that air traffic controllers from neighboring countries would be brought in to man the command tower. The first of 15 international flights was expected to land at 11:30AM.
In San Pedro Town both Tropic Air and Maya Island Air were crowded with travelers who were destined for the international airport.
At 2:45PM the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation, along with the Belize Department of Aviation issued the press release below.
OPERATIONS AT THE PHILIP GOLDSON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Press Release – February 21, 2015 – On Saturday, February 21st, 2015, at 6:10 a.m. the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation, and its Department of Civil Aviation were informed that the Air Traffic Controllers scheduled to work the 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. shift at the Control Tower of the Philip Goldson International Airport had reported in sick. Subsequently, the Department of Civil Aviation has also received indication that some of the Air Traffic Controllers scheduled to work the 12 to 6 p.m. shift had also reported in sick. As a result, the Department of Civil Aviation has taken measures to ensure that the Philip Goldson International Airport remains operational and maintains all international safety and operations standards. While two international flights, were initially affected due to these unfortunate circumstances, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation, and the Department of Civil Aviation, in conjunction with its regional partner COCESNA, and its local partners the Belize Airport Concession Company and the Belize Airports Authority, have reinitiated full operations at the Control Tower of the Philip Goldson International Airport. Consequently, we have been able fully resume all local and international flights, as scheduled. We are also working to rectify the inconveniences caused to the flights that were affected this morning.
The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation and the Department of Civil Aviation, takes this time to extend its apologies for any inconveniences this event may have caused to our valued local and international passengers at the Philip Goldson International Airport, as well as, our local and international aviation partners, tourism stakeholders, and the travelling public. The Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Civil Aviation, the Department of Civil Aviation, and our local and international partners continue to work diligently to ensure that there is no further interruption of normal operations at the Philip Goldson International Airport.
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