BVI News

Wind and heat forced Sunday’s AA flight delay — BVIAA

Weather conditions have been blamed for an hours-long delay to an American Airlines (AA) flight that was destined for Miami from the Terrance B Lettsome International Airport this past Sunday.

Managing Director of the BVI Airports Authority (BVIAA) Kurt Menal said in a press release yesterday that the delay encountered prior to the departure of American Airlines Flight # 3989 from the airport was as a result of prevailing winds and high temperature.

Menal’s response followed a lengthy post on social media by a person who said they were a passenger on that flight. In the post, the passenger detailed that several passengers were asked to deplane while the pilot requested that all luggage be removed as well.

It was also mentioned that the aircraft had excess fuel and that this had to be burned off before the aircraft could takeoff. The passenger, while warning others not to take the flight because of runway issues, also reported that they missed a connecting flight in New Orleans after landing.

But Menal, while explaining the circumstances surrounding the incident, said all aircraft operating on the day in question at the airport were forced to depart using runway 25 from the east instead of runway 07 from the west.

“Runway 25 is approximately 295 feet shorter than runway 07 and the temperatures and winds were not favourable at the scheduled time of American Airline’s departure,” Menal explained.

According to Menal, American Airlines operates at the airport with restrictions on passenger loads on departure as a result of the current runway length constraints.

He further noted that the airline also has further restrictions that are required to be incorporated into their operational planning should they have to depart from a different direction than normal.

The Managing Director related that, after careful consideration, the pilot in command of the flight made a decision to reduce the weight on the aircraft ahead of take-off to ensure the safety of all passengers on board and the safe operations as it was departing from another direction.

“The payload was reduced when the airline removed all passengers’ luggage following which it departed the territory,” Menal stated.

According to the BVIAA, affected passengers have since been contacted by AA’s Client Service Department which has undertaken the necessary steps to have all luggage depart the Territory today and delivered to their respective owners.

It was not immediately clear whether any compensation was offered by the airline since the passenger said no hotel vouchers were provided after the missed connecting flight as the incident was ‘wind related’.


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  1. Nonsense says:

    Runway 7 and runway 25 are the same piece of tarmac – it is called runway 25 when the planes land from the west (which is normal) and runway 7 when they land from the east (which only happens a few times a year when the wind blows from the other direction.
    The runway is the same length whether measured east to west, or west to east. It is worrying that the MD does not know that! Does he even know that there is only one runway! Or does he think we are fools that will report anything he says without querying it (like all the news blogs have done).

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  2. short extension.. says:

    surely a relatively short runway extension at a reasonable cost would be the sensible step to avoid reoccurence.

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  3. For safety reasons, says:

    it is imperative that the airport is extended. It’s something that we all know needs to be done but the politics of doing so has gotten in the way, yet the decision makers have forged ahead with these flights despite the risk.

    The fact that the flight was delayed due to the allegedly wind and temperature, some passengers had to deplane, the aircraft had to burn off fuel before takeoff, and the plane took off without apparently passengers’ luggage is not a good start.

    Quite frankly what happened is a predictable one that will more likely happen again. It’s a telling sign that there is an inherent risk to passenger and crew safety to travel on these flights with the current run way length. Not to mention the inconvenience of travelling without your luggage.

    This is will be a recurring theme over time, and out of due caution before disaster strikes, there has to be some serious and meaningful discussions about extending the airport runway.

    Now, I am one of the most optimistic person one can find, but I personally do not see myself flying in or out of Terrance B Lettsome International Airport anytime soon under the current conditions.

    It’s a good thing the pilot exercise apparently all due caution in reducing the weight on the flight prior to takeoff, but I cannot see how the airline could sustain this over time if future flights have to take these measures under similar circumstances in the future.

    Safety should be the number one priority for these flights. IMO, the money being spent on some free concert to celebrate these flights could be used to help extend the runway.

    I pray tragedy never strikes but as someone who survived an plane crash before, I see reasons for concern here. I will continue to take the ferry to St. Thomas and fly out there until both my safety concerns and to some degree the high ticket prices are improved.

    Wishing all the best to those who travel on these flights however.

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  4. Elsa says:

    Lengthening of the runway could very well be done over the road to the airport in the essence of time. I am no scientist, but I travel extensively and notice numerous countries with runways over the highways. I am sure the BVI could add a few more feet over the road until they are able to finance a project on the other end.

    It has hotter to get yet, so I see the end of direct flights from MIA coming soon because AA will find it does not make sense, because with this publicity, people are going right back to their old travel habits. The new announcement will be that this flight will stop in san Juan and a smaller American Eagle will complete the trip to the BVI, which may make more economic sense for AA. Mark my word.

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  5. yeah says:

    Cancel the 250K party and pay the people’s hotel bill. BVI never learns.

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  6. @Nonsense Your speaking nonsense says:

    I’ve never heard such rubbish yet, the planes arrive and depart into the wind, what you are saying is the complete opposite. Runway 07 which is normal see winds coming from the east 95% of the year… that means the aircraft lands from the west into the wind. Not the other way around as you suggest. The plane can’t land from the west on runway 25 because it’s going into the wind… hence runway 07! It’s called runway 25 because the winds come from the southwest which is into the wind hence the approach from trellis bay.

    “it is called runway 25 when the planes land from the west (which is normal) and runway 7 when they land from the east (which only happens a few times a year when the wind blows from the other direction.”

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  7. REALLY says:

    Really? HIGH HEAT. So they can only fly up to a certain temprature? What nonsense is that!!

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  8. Concern says:

    They are stating weather related to not reimburse passengers – but this is just another tactic of AA. This happens in STT and in Miami all the time when they overbook and the plane is now overweight. There is no issue with the runway or the route, it is AA and their tactics.

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