Flights to Corozal resume

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 11, No. 35            September 6, 2001

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Planes landed on the Corozal airstrip once again last Wednesday, following Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) repairs to make the runway safe. Local airlines had boycotted the Corozal destination last week as a result of deteriorating conditions. Although this was a positive gesture on the part of the CAA, other Belize airstrips in destinations throughout the country are currently being evaluated. In order of severity, Punta Gorda, Dangriga and Caye Caulker may be the next runways avoided because of safety hazards.

     This week, it was learned the inconvenience of cancelled flights may extend to include evening flights to San Pedro as well. According to one local airline representative, runway lights at the San Pedro Aerodrome are not operating properly. This is reportedly a major result of lights being damaged by "joy riding" on the airstrip. The lights currently being used are substandard to those used in heavily trafficked airstrips and are more appropriate for "a farmer's landing strip-used once a month." The more reliable and sturdy type of landing lights needed may cost as much as $70,000, an item supposedly not "in the budget" either.

    "The runway lights bought us an extra thirty minutes of flying time," stated Tropic Air's Johnny Greif III. This is more than a convenience for tourists. Runway lights are essential for emergency landings and evacuations to be possible after dark," he continued.

    The potential for travelers being stranded at the International Airport again looms on the horizon. International flights that arrive late from Miami and Dallas in the United States prompt delayed connections to San Pedro. If runway lights are not replaced and runway conditions not improved, neither Maya Island or Tropic Air may be available for the large number of passengers awaiting transfer to Belize's many tourist destinations, including "La Isla Bonita."



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