US warns of ‘unconfirmed threat’ to CAL flights

-gov’t assures ‘highest security posture’, airline to operate as normal

Citing unconfirmed threat information, the US Em-bassy yesterday advised its citizens here to avoid CAL flights over the next few days and government officials last night said the “highest security posture” in in place while the regional airline said its service will go ahead as scheduled.

The US embassy advisory posted on its website was unprecedented here post 9/11 and fuelled questions as to what sort of security threat existed, its credibility and source. Security officials were tightlipped about this yesterday.

The Trinidad Express reported that the threat emanated from a telephone call from Barbados.

“The Embassy has received unconfirmed threat information relating to Caribbean Airlines flights destined for the United States departing on Monday, February 10, 2014,” the embassy stated on its website.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the Embassy advises all U.S. Citizens in Guyana traveling on Carib-bean Airlines (CAL) to the United States from Mon-day, February 10 through Wednesday, February 12, 2014, to make alternate travel arrangements,” the statement added.

The first CAL flight today, BW 484  is due to leave at 5.35 this morning. BW 524 is set to leave at 6.05 am, BW 527 at 8.35 am, BW 662 at 10.15 am and BW 424 at 2.40 pm.

Minister of Transport Robeson Benn told Stabroek News yesterday that his ministry was aware of the threat and the respective agencies were briefed. To this end Benn said that a “high level security meeting” was held on Saturday with security stakeholders to discuss implementation of heightened security measures and to implement additional systems to prevent any untoward occurrence and allay the fears of travellers and the public.  “We have upped the ante…we are working to ensure the safety of passengers and airline and airport personnel,” Benn said.

Further, he informed that  Caribbean Airlines personnel in Trinidad and Barbados have also  been notified .

The Ministry of Public Works in a press statement last night echoed Benn’s stance and assured that the “highest security posture” was in place to ensure smooth and safe operations at the airport.

It said that the heightened security posture will remain in place over a number of days until such time as the threat is no longer deemed valid.

The ministry is asking airport users to be on the lookout for any suspicious activities and occurrences and to immediately report same to an airport security official.

Stabroek News understands that the threat was received about two weeks ago and was specific to the February 10th flight which had at least one US embassy official scheduled to travel.

When contacted by telephone yesterday,  Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee informed that he was in a meeting. He could not be contacted later.

An official from the Disciplined Services told Stabroek News that both the police and army were on alert and both had discussions with the Home Affairs Ministry.

Meanwhile, Caribbean Airlines has said that while stringent security measures have been upped its flights remain uninterrupted.

“Caribbean Airlines will like to advise the travelling public that we are working closely with all authorities to ensure that security protocols are followed. All Caribbean Airlines flights will operate as scheduled and we thank the travelling public for their understanding for any inconvenience at this time and special security measure will be put in place at this period”, CAL’s Head of Corporate Communications, Clint Williams said in a statement to the Trinidad Express.

CAL’s Country Manager Carl Stuart told Stabroek News that he could not get into the details of security arrangements lest it compromises the company’s plans. However, he said that both CAL and government were prompt in establishing security protocols as it pertains to the  threats.

The US embassy’s statement strongly recommended that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Guyana enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). “STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. Embassy to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy,” the statement said.

It also advises that citizens regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where they can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. Travelers can also refer  to “A Safe Trip Abroad” on the State Department’s website for further information.

They can also contact the U.S. Embassy for up-to-date information on travel restrictions by  calling  1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). During regular business hours the embassy can be reached at 225-4900/9 Ext. 4222. U.S. citizens in need of urgent assistance may use the embassy’s 623-1992 number.

Citizens can also follow the embassy on social media sites such as  Twitter and Facebook, and download their  free Smart Traveler iPhone App to have travel information at your fingertips.

Latest in Local News

default placeholder

Wade, Hazlewood guide Australia to victory

(Reuters) – A match-winning three-wicket bowling stint by Mitchell Marsh lifted Australia to a convincing victory by 58 runs against West Indies in the final of the triangular one-day international (ODI) series in Barbados today.

default placeholder

Gov’t sets out bid protest procedures

Following the setting up of a Bid Protest Committee (BPC), the Ministry of Finance today unveiled the procedures that bidders who are dissatisfied with how a contract has been awarded, must follow to have the award reviewed.

default placeholder

Eye care specialists to meet in Barbados next month

Eye care specialists from across the Anglophone, Dutch and Spanish-speaking Caribbean, North America and Europe will converge in Barbados in July for the 27th Congress of the Ophthalmological Society of the West Indies (OSWI).

default placeholder

Cases being built against drug kingpins

Outgoing Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy here, Bryan Hunt has urged patience as it relates to indictments of local drug barons saying that cases are being built in the background that can guarantee convictions.

St Paul’s Anglican Church in Aurora

Aurora Village (Part 2)

Things in Aurora Village are much livelier than in Aurora Estate. Women walk in and out of the health centre with babies hanging from their hips; policemen stand outside the police station bracing against a wooden rail as they talk amongst themselves and shouts of chatter from children playing fill the air.

A Cessna 206 – the model of the planes flown out of Eugene F Correia International Airport, at Ogle yesterday

Probe launched into illegal Cessna flights from Ogle

The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) yesterday launched an investigation into the illegal flights of two aircraft from the Eugene F Correia International Airport, at Ogle, East Coast Demerara.

default placeholder

Broke City Hall seeks gov’t bailout

Debt-ridden City Hall has approached the government for a bailout after undertaking several Golden Jubilee projects it did not budget for.

Trevon Thomas

Youth of Guyanese parentage dies in BVI boat accident

A young man of Guyanese parentage died tragically in Tortola, British Virgin Islands around 10:00 hrs yesterday when the speedboat he was in hit rough waters and capsized.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: