Passengers stranded as CJIA runway lights fail

…American Airlines diverted flight to T&T

Hundreds of passengers were left stranded after the runway lighting system at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) experienced a failure on Thursday night, forcing at least one airline to divert to Trinidad for landing.
According to the CJIA in a statement on Thursday, the airport’s runway lighting system had a failure as a result of a slack cable connection. But after the failure, sometime around 23:30h, portable runway lights were immediately deployed along the entire length of the runway.
The faulted cable was temporarily installed to facilitate the ongoing extension works on the runway.
A senior airport official explained to Guyana Times that the runway light cables are usually ran underground, but because of the ongoing extension works, temporary cables are being used. These, it was noted, were run to the extreme ends of the runway.
“That is just a temporary arrangement, but when the runway is extended fully, (the cables) will go back down underground as it would normally be. The temporary cable got loose, it got slack and that caused the lights to go off physically and we had to use the portable lights,” the official said.
Nevertheless, the airport’s management assured in the missive on Friday that the portable runway lights that were used complied with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards.
This allowed for the departure of the Suriname Airways flight shortly after midnight and the arrival of Caribbean Airlines flight BW 605 from Port of Spain around 02:12h on Friday.
However, Thursday night’s incoming American Airlines flight was diverted to Trinidad, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded in Piarco International Airport in Port-of-Spain and at the airport in Guyana.
Passengers who were on the diverted flight complained of being left at the Trinidad airport for hours with little to no word from the flight crew or airline representatives. The same plights were experienced by passengers scheduled to depart Guyana with that same flight.
“I can’t comment on the decision taken by American Airlines (to divert) but our runway was operational,” the official contended.
Meanwhile, efforts by this newspaper to obtain a comment from American Airlines on the issue were futile.
Nevertheless, the CJIA assured that the main runway lighting system has since been repaired for operations. According to the official, measures were also put in place to prevent a reoccurrence of Thursday’s incident.