Operations have resumed at the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) in Kingston, after being closed down overnight (Tuesday), following a landing mishap involving an American Airlines aircraft, which presumably overshot the runway.
The mishap occurred as American Airlines flight AA 331 with 145 passengers and six crew members, en route from Miami, Florida, USA, made its final approach to the NMIA airstrip at approximately 10: 25 p.m. The incident resulted in some 91 persons being hospitalised for various injuries sustained. No fatalities were reported.
The Airports Authority of Jamaica’s (AAJ) Vice President for Commercial Development, Marketing and Planning, Mark Williams, confirmed the re-opening in an interview with JIS News, Wednesday morning (December 23).
“We have been fully operational since early this morning. In fact, Air Jamaica Flight 031 (en route to Fort Lauderdale, Florida) was the first to depart at approximately 6:40,” he explained.
Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), and Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) personnel secure the damaged American Airlines airplane (Flight, AA 331), which is presumed to have overshot the Norman Manley International Airport runway in Kingston, following an attempted landing by crew members on Tuesday night (December 22).
Mr. Williams also advised that the requisite follow up notices to relevant aviation industry stakeholders, locally and internationally, regarding the closure and re-opening were issued as a standard procedure.
Minister with responsibility for Information, Hon. Daryl Vaz, also confirmed the airport’s re-opening. He was briefed by the airport officials, and told JIS News that runway access has been restricted to smaller commercial aircrafts. He said that this is as a result of the current location of the tail of the American Airlines plane, which would not facilitate landing by the much larger transatlantic jets.
He added that this is a matter which is still of concern to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
“It should be removed to allow for full access to the airport. Where it is positioned now would restrict (access to) the full length of the airstrip. But, that is expected to be dealt with sometime early this (Wednesday) morning,” Mr. Vaz stated. He also disclosed that preliminary investigations into the matter have commenced.
The remains of the damaged American Airlines airplane(Flight AA 331), which is presumed to have overshot the Norman Manley International Airport runway in Kingston following an attempted landing by crew members on Tuesday night (December 22).
“The investigations started last night with the local Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) taking control of the crash site and securing the black boxes. The United States’ National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) is due here this morning to join in the investigations, as well as American Airlines’ investigators,” the Minister said.
He also confirmed that the Ministry of Transport and Works is representing the administration in the matter, and that the Government will fully co-operate with the investigations.
Mr. Williams said no determination as to the cause of the accident has, as yet, been made. He also advised that Port Royal remains closed to vehicular traffic, except in cases of emergency.
“The scene of the accident is on the Port Royal Road and the aircraft is still there. That has been cordoned off from public access (by the security forces), outside of emergency services,” he said. The airport is accessible via the Palisadoes Road.
Mr. Williams also stated that the Port Royal Road would be re-opened, as soon as the investigations by all stakeholders have been completed.