(Trinidad Guardian) Discharge of gas caused the evacuation of staff in the Area Control Centre of Piarco International Airport, disrupting air traffic services and resulting in delays in flights yesterday.
According to information from the T&T Civil Aviation Authority, the problem developed around 12.30 pm when there was a discharge of FM200 gas.
It occurred during the routine maintenance of a fire suppression system by an external contractor: “Contingency measures were put in place to ensure the continued safe operation of aircraft in flight and for departures at airports within the Piarco Flight Information Region,” the Authority said.
“Specific measures were taken to continue air traffic services on the air bridge, which ensured reduced delays to flights between the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.”
The situation was eventually brought under control and full operations resumed at the airport at 3 pm. However, the evacuation and delays confused some passengers and people waiting to collect arriving passengers.
Byron Skerrit said he was waiting for a relative to arrive on a flight from Grenada. He got to the airport at around 2 pm since the flight was supposed to land at 2.35pm.
As he gazed at the small screen announcing arrival and departure times in the airport’s terminal, he said he was at a loss as to when the flight would arrive.
“You see, it’s saying the flight is delayed but there is no new arrival time so I just have to wait for word from my relative on when they are leaving Grenada,” he said.
Skerrit said no announcements were made while he was waiting.
The flight from Grenada eventually landed at 5.30pm.
Sabita Persad, who was waiting for her son to arrive on a flight from Guyana breathed a sigh of relief when his plane touched down at 4.15 pm. She said she had been waiting for more than three hours.
“We were not given any information on what was happening or why the flight was delayed, so I have just been waiting here without a clue,” Persad said.
Guyanese attorney, Teni Housty, came in on the same flight as Persad’s son. He said at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Guyana, an announcement was made that there was an issue in T&T airspace and no flights were being allowed to land. Housty said his flight was delayed for an hour.