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G’da admits AA requested permission for May 7 flight to MBIA

The Grenada Ministry of Tourism & Civil Aviation, headed by Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen has admitted that it did receive a request by U.S carrier, American Airlines (AA) to resume service to the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) on May 7.

The ministry put out an official release Friday following a report carried by THE NEW TODAY which indicated that AA had started to advertise the flight to the airport located at Point Salines in the south of the island.

The release said: “The Ministry can confirm that a request was received from American Airlines to resume service to Grenada on May 7, 2020, if the restrictions imposed as a result of the State of Emergency are lifted. While the correspondence was acknowledged by the relevant authorities, there was no approval of the request because quite frankly, any deliberation on the resumption of incoming passenger traffic, is premature at this point”.

The release did not indicate whether the Keith Mitchell-led government in St. George’s had informed American Airlines that its request had been turned down.

MBIA was closed to air traffic for over three weeks now as part of measures by Grenada to control the spread of the deadly coronavirus on the island.

The report carried by THE NEW TODAY on the impending AA flight into the international airport resulted in several locals taking to Facebook to strongly urge the administration in St. George’s not to facilitate the flight due to the state of uncertainty with the virus.

Several other carriers including JetBlue, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines and Virgin Atlantic had also published on their websites a list of scheduled flights into MBIA.

American was advertising the flight on its website at the cost of US$475.00 round trip from the Miami International Airport into St. George’s.

Following is the full text of the release from the Ministry of Tourism & Civil Aviation:

“The Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation reaffirms that the borders of Grenada remain closed to all incoming passenger traffic. You would recall that the Maurice Bishop International Airport was closed in March and all approved traffic since then, have been cargo flights bringing in goods and medical supplies; repatriation flights to return persons from Grenada to their respective home countries and medical evacuations, as announced previously.

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The closure of the airport is in keeping with Government’s decision to protect public health and safety during this pandemic. As you would recall, all confirmed cases of COVID-19 recorded in Grenada were imported or import-related. Therefore, the MBIA will remain closed to all incoming passenger traffic until such time that the Government is reassured that it is safe to re-open.

The level of misinformation that continues to be prevalent, especially in this period of crisis and heightened public sensitivity, is quite alarming. We cannot be expected to refute each reported inaccuracy, but in this case, it is important to reassure the citizens of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique that Government continues to put the interests of this country and its people first.

Therefore, to reiterate, there will be no resumption of flights until Government makes an informed decision based on the advice of the health experts. We have done an excellent job over the last few weeks, managing the potential spread of the virus and safeguarding public health and safety. No decisions will be taken that will endanger the lives of our people.

The economic impact of the pandemic is quite widespread and although many are eager to reclaim some sense of normalcy, actions cannot be premature and consequences must be thoroughly examined. While we look forward to working with our international carriers and partners on making the tourism industry thrive again, as a Government, we still maintain a very cautious approach, with respect to the resumption of business.

The Ministry can confirm that a request was received from American Airlines to resume service to Grenada on May 7, 2020, if the restrictions imposed as a result of the State of Emergency are lifted. While the correspondence was acknowledged by the relevant authorities, there was no approval of the request because quite frankly, any deliberation on the resumption of incoming passenger traffic, is premature at this point.

Again, the Ministry assures the population that no approval has been granted for the operation of any passenger flight, from any origin, for any date in the near future. The re-opening of Grenada’s borders will be done only after broad-based consultation and on the advice of medical experts. Any announcement of this will come from an official Government source”.