By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
REPLACEMENT runway lights earmarked for Acklins and Crooked Island have been rerouted and used to address lighting issues at the nation’s second busiest airport – the Leonard M Thompson International Airport in Marsh Harbour, Abaco.
Bahamasair last week announced it had dropped flights to Treasure Cay, Abaco due non-functioning runway lights at Marsh Harbour.
While addressing the issue outside of Cabinet yesterday, Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said he expected to have the matter fully addressed this week.
He told reporters he had instructed officials at the Airport Authority to forgo lighting upgrades at airports in Acklins and Crooked Island and to utilise those supplies in Marsh Harbour.
Mr D’Aguilar said: “Given the fact the Marsh Harbour is the second busiest airport in the country, I directed him to take those uninstalled lights destined for Acklins and Crooked Island and put them into Marsh Harbour.”
This process is expected to be done either this week or next week.
“I am a little annoyed to have to say that it was allowed to deteriorate to that level, so I’ve instructed the chairman of the Airport Authority and the general manager of the Airport Authority to give me a report on all the airports, the status of all the lights and to ensure that situation, certainly at our second busiest airport, is not repeated,” Mr D’Aguilar said.
When pressed on why the situation had been allowed to go unaddressed prior to Bahamasair’s announcement, Mr D’Aguilar took a shot at his predecessor, Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin, insisting he bought into her claim that the runway lights across the country had been examined before she left office in May 2017.
“I am assuming that every airport has the appropriate lighting,” he contended. “But it is not just simply that they have the lighting, but is all the lighting working?”
In a follow-up question, Mr D’Aguilar was asked if he had authorised a review of runway lighting equipment since coming to office, to which he responded: “Yes. they are (in place).”
He continued: “(Officials) are in the process of doing that. I am told … by the general manager of the Airport Authority that everything is working, but you know, sometimes that is not the case.
“Certainly Marsh Harbour is an example of, hey, over 50 percent of the lights are not working. How was that allowed to happen? That is a management issue that we need to address and we are addressing that,” he added.
Bahamasair’s new daily flight service to Marsh Harbour from Nassau leaves at 4pm, and its flight from Abaco to the capital leaves at 4.55pm. It is unclear when flight schedules will return to normal.
• Last night, Bahamasair issued a statement, saying that the runway lights in Marsh Harbour are now working. The airline said it would resume its normal schedule tomorrow.
The statement also said that screening checks in Miami have resumed normal operations, but passengers travelling either direction are urged to arrive three hours before departure as issues remain with the current US government shutdown.