Reports that an explosive device was to be placed on a United States-bound flight from Jamaica was just a hoax, Minister of Transport and Works, Hon. Michael Henry, assured the House of Representatives Tuesday (March 1).
“Preliminary investigations conducted by the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) suggest that the report is a hoax, maliciously contrived to defame an employee of an airport concessionaire,” Minister Henry said.
The 72-hour suspension imposed by the United States Transport Security Administration (TSA) on all cargo departing Jamaica for the US, or using US airspace to Canada and the Bahamas, has also been lifted, the Minister also announced.
“A team from the United States Transport Security Administration (TSA)arrived in Jamaica yesterday to consult with the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority and review the security arrangements at both international airports. Arising out of these consultations and review, the temporary ban has been lifted,” he noted.
These developments followed information received by the police on Sunday (February 27), that an explosive device was to be placed on a United States-bound flight at the Norman Manley International Airport. The TSA immediately imposed the temporary ban.
Mr. Henry noted that heightened surveillance and other security precautions were activated for all outbound flights.
“Normal flights from Jamaica to the US were subjected to extraordinary security checks, both by the Jamaican authority prior to departure and the US authorities upon arrival,” he explained.
He noted that investigations were continuing with a view to confirming, beyond a doubt, the preliminary finding that the threat was a prank, as well as apprehending those who may be responsible for the disruption to international civil aviation.
“Jamaica maintains a high level of security screening for both passengers and cargo on all outgoing flights. Any threat of the kind involved in this incident is taken seriously, until investigations suggest otherwise. At the same time, care is being given to review our security protocols to ensure the maximum safety of aircraft and passengers using our airports,” he said.
The Transport Minster commended the representatives of the TSA and all airlines operating in Jamaica, who have fully co-operated in the matter.
“I commend as well, the police and the Civil Aviation Authority for their pro-activeness and diligence in safeguarding the integrity of our airport security,” he added.
CONTACT: ALECIA SMITH