BVI News

BVI passengers stuck on aircraft after arriving at ‘closed’ airport

Passengers of interCaribbean flight number JY0411 grounded inside the aircraft on the runway of the Terrance B Lettsome International Airport. (Photo provided)

At least four senior citizens and a young mother with her suckling infant were among roughly two dozen passengers forced, for more than an hour, to stay inside an aircraft that landed at the Terrance B Lettsome International Airport some minutes after 10 pm Saturday night, November 27.

This was because Customs and Immigration officers stationed at the airport were not present to receive the late-night interCaribbean Airlines flight.

The airline’s late-night flight from the Dominican Republic was actually scheduled to arrive 3:30 pm earlier that day. However, the flight experienced an unexplained delay that lasted for a shocking seven hours. The flight that was scheduled to depart at 2:05 pm never left the Las Américas International Airport in Santo Domingo till minutes after 9 o’clock that night.

Some passengers — among whom were BVI citizens and visitors — were incensed. According to a high-ranking senior official from Her Majesty’s Customs, the airline was told not to land in the BVI at that hour because the airport closes a 9 pm.

Passengers were never told of this reported advisory. And based on the account of passengers on the flight, they were advised while en route to the BVI that the aircraft was going to divert to St Maarten. Some minutes later they received another announcement mid-flight that the aircraft would go to Puerto Rico instead. Not long after, they received a final announcement that the plane would land in its intended destination at Beef Island, BVI.

But when they arrived, no-one was there to receive them. This was later verified by an ancillary airport worker who was heard speaking about what transpired when the officers learnt of the airline’s considerably belated arrival.

“Customs say they not waiting [and] Immigration gone,” the airport worker was heard telling one of the passengers.

Baggage and passports held overnight

BVI News understands that the aircraft was under threat of returning to the skies to transport the passengers over to the neighbouring St Maarten which was reportedly willing to keep them overnight.

But after the long wait onboard the aircraft, restless passengers were told that officers had returned to the airport to process them. They were then ushered to a lounge at the airport where vaccination checks were made.

Following those checks, they proceeded to Immigration where a single worker in the person of Deputy Commissioner of Customs, Clinton Romney, was seen in plain clothes processing passengers.

Passengers were informed that they would not be able to retrieve their checked luggage until today (Sunday, November 28) because of staffing issues. Their passports were also held till that time.

Responding to a Facebook post that highlighted the incident and questioned the government’s running tourism mantra of ‘BVI Love’, Premier Andrew Fahie said there was more to the story. He did not delve into any further detail.

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51 Comments

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  1. SMDH says:

    Seems like the aircraft was at fault. They should have gotten permission to land after 10.00pm.

    Like 40
    Dislike 9
    • Rubber Duck says:

      If Inter Caribbean want to land with a plane full of tourists and belongers at 10:30 at night, the airport should be open.

      Like 20
      Dislike 18
    • Airport Worker says:

      A bunch of you on here talking p**s. If you don’t know about airport operations keep quiet. How did the plane land? there must have been BVIAA air traffic controllers who allowed them in. There are protocols for late flights. But when you got a PU$$Y man at the head of the authority things like this must happen.

      Like 13
      Dislike 3
    • Anonymous says:

      You sound dumb asf! All aircrafts must have permission to land and take off from the air traffic control center. So the aircraft can’t be at fault bc before they can touch ground someone has to give permission. #Idiot

  2. Mmmm says:

    Inter caribean think they own the place. Turning up unannounced.

    Like 22
    Dislike 20
  3. Laura says:

    This is unacceptable. This flight should have either been cancelled or diverted to another airport that was open for landing at that hour. If an airport closes at a certain hour, it should be upheld. Only in the BVI do people feel they can do as they feel. It is unfair and can’t happen anywhere else.

    Like 35
    Dislike 10
  4. hmmm says:

    I will not blame the government for this mess. That airline is known for this level of nonsense. If the airport closed at 9pm why not cancel the flight?

    Last year I purchased a ticket from Inter C…. few days before my scheduled departure, I received an email that the fight cancelled because the airport in the BVI was closed; only to learn the airport was not closed. I had to spend two nights in a hotel and had to purchased a ticket with another airline.

    Like 27
    Dislike 3
  5. As Usual says:

    Typically BVI unprofessional ignorance.
    “Don’t hire local is the motto” ,and for good reason.

    Like 20
    Dislike 48
    • Xxxx says:

      My apology.
      Please accept.
      In this situation,as circumstances unfold,the VI is not at fault but did respond to the,situation,above and beyond.

      Like 10
  6. This is terrible says:

    There are many questions here that needs answers.

    What kind of communication took place between the plane and the airport prior to departure from DR and during that flight?

    What kind of international airport we have here where operations closed down @ 9 pm?

    Was immigration and customs aware that the plane was in flight and would be arriving late yet decided to leave work with that knowledge?

    Something went terrible wrong here, and whomever was responsible for this terrible snafu needs to be held to account.

    I feel badly for those passengers who had to go thru this experience.

    Like 32
    Dislike 4
    • Blah says:

      The airline wouldn’t have hold up the flight for 1 late passenger but they think they can land anywhere 8hrs late. You already know who was responsible but people like to blame government for everything so they will look to the stars for a reason to blame them. The flight was scheduled to land at 2:30pm. They land after 10pm. The airline was responsible for their passengers for the entire duration. After they realized they would not have fixed whatever problem by 7:45pm they should have made accommodations for overnight stay and contacted the BVIAA for a possible extension or delayed flight giving a clear reason for the delay and a realistic resolution time. If whatever problem was not resolved by 8:45 when the airport was already closed they should they should have made accommodations for overnight stay. Whatever the problem was it seem like something that the Airline had no idea of when it would be resolved so they were basically were telling immigration to just hold on we will come with no definite departure time like they run the show.

      Like 25
      Dislike 5
      • This is terrible says:

        I personally am not blaming the government. The article as written does not tell give us any detailed information as to what exactly occured in this situation, thus my first statement that that there are many questions here.

        Your last statement about ‘like they run the show’ speaks to a mindset of perhaps what transpired in part between the airline and customs/immigration. A power trip @ the expense of vulnerable passengers.

        Clearly the airline has to account for its own conduct but it appears neither customs/immigration nor the airline had these passengers interest at heart.

        From customs/immigration standpoint, the airline was closing @ 9 regardless of any delayed flight.

        I understand if the airport closes @ a particular hour but there will be instances when other flights will be delayed. I would want to believe that their are customs/immigration folks who are assigned to deal with such issues rather than folks saying the plane late, airport close, and everyone goes home.

        Thats not good. There is a communication breakdown here on many levels. I see issues on both sides with the passengers getting the middle finger for some BVI Love.

        Like 14
        Dislike 5
  7. Haha says:

    Supposed to arrive in the BVI at 3:30pm and land after 10pm. The Airport closes at 8pm currently. How could they have landed over 2hrs after closing time and why was there so many delays and indecision as to where and when they will land. St. Marten. Puerto Rico? It appears that the pilot or the airline deliberately chose to land in the BVI because they have no respect for the BVI. They probably were told by St Marten and PR that they couldn’t land there and they respected that but in usual cases where the airline screw up they pay for the accommodation and meals of their affected passengers. This Airline may have chose to save some money by doing whatever was necessary to avoid added expenses even landing in a closed airport.

    Like 17
    Dislike 4
  8. WEW says:

    Nice work tourist board and immigration. Only in the BVI. Thet had to know the flight was incoming but didn’t care. Typical.

    Like 22
    Dislike 19
  9. Belonger says:

    This sounds so backward. Where are we living – Timbuktu?

    Like 15
    Dislike 5
    • BuzzBvi says:

      No, The replacement word for Timbuktu is – Tortola. We essentially use this phrase to denote somewhere very far away. It is used to mean a journey we really don’t want to do, such as “ I’m not going from here to Tortola on a vacation”

      Like 9
      Dislike 2
    • Timbuktu says:

      I suspect that Mali is better organised or is more willing to impose fines on miscreant airlines such that this would not happen in Timbuktu!

  10. Homeboy says:

    I guess the government not paiding for over time.

  11. bohicacanada says:

    Definitely the fault of the airline. They knew when the airport closed and Customs and Immigration had done their work and did not have to return.
    Kudos to the Customs official that returned. He did not have too.
    Not a black eye on the BVI but it may be seen as such by some misinformed persons.

    Like 13
    Dislike 7
  12. Resident says:

    Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport.
    Isn’t it a bit unusual for an international airport to close at 9pm?

    Like 24
    Dislike 7
    • GTFOH says:

      Not to intelligent people. It’s all about supply and demand. Should an International Airport be open 24/7 when all scheduled flights have arrived or departed. All airlines arrive on a schedule not some random event. Why keep an airport open after the last arrival/departure. I guess they should keep it open for bragging rights while losing thousands of dollars yearly in paying staff to sit and do nothing. It’s not like the airport even when open is that busy to even think about extending opening times.

      Like 9
      Dislike 1
  13. All of them useless.. Britain Please Take over says:

    Useless Government, Useless Premier, Useless Minister, Useless Customs and immigration.. These people wicked, selfish, no compassion and hate for people are so upsetting…The Place has no Leadership.Every worker doing as they wish. We really need a Britain take over..Sometimes Situations on the ground call for Understanding. This is an easy situation to understand and accommodate the flight…I’m so F up with these boasting show off workers..Hope them and their family never need favour or help in their life..

    Like 11
    Dislike 14
    • Privileged says:

      Snarky words for someone who seemingly doesn’t know that this issue has been a long standing one. The employees have a right to leave if no one notified them of the late flight. They dont owe nobody $#it. It have very simple rules and regulations to follow which the airlines never do and gov always keeping the airport open for the likes of LIAT and intercaribbean for years at cost to the employees.

      Lock it up again if them out of line. Lock it a$$ up.

  14. Common sence says:

    If there are no flights coming in after 8 PM why should the airport stay open. Only in the BVI everyone want to do as they please because our Government is trying to please everyone. Not because we have BVI love we do not have to let everybody walk all over us. Every place in the world have rules and regulations that we have to abide.

    Like 17
    Dislike 1
  15. pilot robin says:

    someone had to know and all clear was giving be if the airport close the lights on the run way goes off so the fact that the lights was on a call was made because the lights wouldnt be on if them wasnt expecting a flight

    Like 15
    Dislike 3
    • Seasalt says:

      Exactly what I am here thinking. A plane cannot land without Fire officers present, ATC, and its support staff. Now these other agents messed up, give us the true story so we can make sense of it. BVI LOVE-LY.

  16. ABC says:

    I wonder if fire and rescue waited around 2hrs after the air port closed. This is a dangerous game the air line is playing with people lives. Landing 2hrs after closing hours.

    Like 4
    Dislike 1
  17. Yeah Right says:

    We like big names for small operations around here. International Airport but barely a regional airport at best. It seems like the big names make us feel good about ourselves even though our service sucks. An International Airport that closes at 9pm…But I guess if there aren’t typically any flights at that time, oh well. Meanwhile, in developed countries, I have arrived at 2am and there was no issue whatsoever. This place is just jokey bad and sometimes I wonder how we stay afloat. I won’t lay blame but if the plane didn’t have approval to land they should not have been allowed. I don’t think they landed on a dark runway so clearly the lights were still on. As far as I know, the lights are turned off when the airport is closed. If they were allowed to land, someone should have been there to clear them. But as usual, they were greeted with classic BVILOVE….What a dysfunctional little place.

    Like 6
    Dislike 3
  18. Make it make sense says:

    Can’t blame the airline. Someone in operations department at airport authority would have to tell the airline they could land at time. Obviously the runway lights would have to be on for the plane to land. ATC obviously had to be there to keep the said runway lights on. Obviously ATC would have to be there to talk to the plane and tell them on which runway to land. Fire and rescue would have to be there so the plane could land.
    To make a long story short operations didn’t liaise with customs/immigration. Yes IC is the new LIAT but got to blame Airport Authority for that cock up

    Like 8
    Dislike 1
    • Anonymous says:

      It sounds like the airline failed to keep their departure times multiple times. Immigration may have tried to accommodate the late arrival but the airline couldn’t keep the agreed schedule.

  19. Eat a food vip government says:

    Intercaribbean getting from bad to worse, you telling me that they couldn’t get another aircraft to make the trip instead of suffering the passengers them?

  20. Musa says:

    Apply the laws of bvi great way to make money that 7%taxing .

  21. 9pm says:

    Seriously 9pm? Why are we closed that early?? How can any late flights from PR or else where be scheduled if we close at 9pm? Having late flights means people don’t need to spend an extra day traveling.
    Also in today’s age Immigration can do most of the pre clearance before people arrive. They all ready have all their details once they are checked in to the flight.
    InterCaribbean did the right thing because if the plane hadn’t got here the next morning flight would have been messed up as well.

    Like 2
    Dislike 2
    • Eye and I says:

      Supply and demand. No flights scheduled for pass that time. The old adage is The dance won’t be able to pay for the light. Why keep and airport open late when you don’t have the flights coming in

  22. John says:

    If the control tower cleared them to land that means the airport is opened. The fact that customs and immigration would not have been there means that this should have been communicated to the airline and the control tower. It is the airline responsibility to now communicate that to head office or dispatch. There are alot of blame to go around but the facts will come out.

  23. Agent says:

    The airline would have had to notify BVIAA, Immigration and Customs and receive permission to land after closing time. It is clear that they did not reveive approvals on all ends and still decided to come in. They should be fined. There has to be some sort of control except if it was an emergency landing. The airport is regulated as well and I am pretty sure they have just given them more work amd reports to write.

    Like 3
    Dislike 1
  24. All I saying says:

    The airline need to leave the B.V.I and go to the real international airports out here ,many countries in the Caribbean would appreciate the business, leave them they already dont have America, about they closing airport at 9 0clock

    Like 4
    Dislike 3
  25. MmFlynn says:

    I was one of the pax on that flight. It was a nightmare! I showed up the next morning to get my passport and luggage and got it by 11:00 AM. Missed two flights out because of the inefficiency of the airline InterCaribbean and government officials. Spent the day at the airport until 5:40PM and I am very great full to the Cape Air personnel who gave exceptional service specially to Ms Ronisa Williamson.
    The 6 hour delay in St Domingo to Tortola without any explanation and after asking to speak to the manager many times who never showed his face is unacceptable. The InterCaribbean personnel was nasty.
    No refunds of taxi, hotel, food in Tortola has been reimbursed so far its a disgraceful!

    Like 4
    Dislike 1
    • 😆🤣😂😹 says:

      This above statement soundings like lie
      Some tolian make up that stork of a story
      Lie trying to take shame off the BVI And blame the airline alone ,if it was here in Rock city they would say is we fault

      LOL ALL YOU LIE TRYING TO CHANGE THE FACT THE BVI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT CLOSES AT TEN
      HERE IN ROCK THE AIRPORT OPEN LATE

      Rock city to the world

      Like 1
      Dislike 2
  26. Callaloo says:

    Surely there are agreed regional protocols in place for situations such as this? Could it be there were no corresponding written procedures that were made available to the officers?

    Or maybe the officers were simply giving their managers a hard time?

    • Nonsense says:

      Some of you all don’t know what you are saying. If the airport closes at 9pm, nothing wrong with that.Blame the airline opps at DR and EIS. Bad communication on the airline part.

  27. Anonymous says:

    BVI showing their true love for visitors. Go to the US vigin island much-loved 🏝.

  28. Frenchie says:

    Still the same since I moved to Island.
    What we have here is ‘Lack of Communication’ between two parties.

  29. Here are the Facts says:

    Since no one here seems to be versed in Aviation

    There is an operations time posted INTERNATIONALLY that the airport is open from 8am to 8pm everyday as per the BVIAA’s decision due to covid and what not. The airport does not close at 9 or 10. This has been so for nearly a year now. So everybody Chill on the closure time.

    2. It is in the BVIAA’s documents that any aircraft expecting to arrive past operational hours must seek approval from BVIAA operations NO LESS THAN 2hrs before closure time 8pm in this case (to which the answer is always yes we will stay open for you, because they dont believe in overtime pay for their workers)

    3. The fault on this matter lies with the Intercaribbean office who failed to call and notify people. So don’t blame the staff if they lick up and leave. They are fully within their right to do so. Shame on platinum for mentioning senior citizens and a nursing mother to further add malice on the staff.

    These are the facts people plain and simple

  30. suzanne says:

    I was on the delayed flight that was to leave when the dominican flight that came in late didnt make. We were told delay delay delay every hr in tortola by intercarribean until they told us cancel at 8:00pm, literally told us sorry but the island is sold out and we cant stay at the airport because they close at 9;00, we scrambled, all 20 of us, and eventually found places to stay, we arrived back at the airport by 8:00 a.m. sunday to see a plane on a tarmac, we were excited, but this was the plane that had arrived late the night before, we were told they came in after hrs and had to have the covid testers come back, the lugagge and opassports were held, immigration was gone and evidentally very angry that the tower allowed them to come in, many people , very poor communication, none the less the govt grounded the plane so we were never able to get on the flight sunday as well, big fines were being negotiated between the BVI govt and Intercarribean, we had to charter a private plane to fly to P.R. and absorb the 18K cost, we are still fighting for reimbursement but receive NO responses from the airline, I copy the secretary of immigration on all emails, still no response, I was messaging them through their Facebook and they cut me off so I couldn’t post any further, they took down my posts regarding there poor service, and I advise anyone I come in contact with NEVER to fly this airline. Horrible service

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