December 22, 2005


ORANJESTAD — Delays in the air traffic from Aruba are so substantial that several airliners are considering suspending their flights. Apparently the main reason seems to be due to the malfunctioning radar in Curaçao, the use of outdated software and an unreliable radio communication between the control towers of the Reina Beatrix and Hato airports.

American Airlines already threatened to cancel the connections between Aruba and San Juan in Puerto Rico. Peter Steinmetz, director of Aruba Airport Authority (AAA), admits that there are problems and stated they have been trying to bring this matter to the attention of minister Edison Briesen (MEP) of Tourism and Transportation and Ady Maduro of the Aviation administration. “Up till now it has not yielded any results”, stated Steinmetz.

The problems continue to escalate, because aircrafts on the runway oftentimes need to wait for an hour or even longer before they are cleared for take off and sometimes they can’t even leave the gate. The delays are especially damaging for connections to hubs in the US, where passengers need to change flights to reach their final destination.

In most cases when these passengers miss their connecting flights due to reasons beyond their control, the airliner oftentimes covers the expenses of meals and eventual stay-overs. Steinmetz has been given to understand that the air traffic control in Curaçao is waiting for the move of their department to a new building and that they are also waiting for new equipment.

He considers it unacceptable that he can’t inform the users of ‘his’ airport on when they can expect an improvement. “Curaçao has been using this argument for too long.” What AAA can do is try to get the problem included in the agenda of the reunion of a delegation of the kingdom who will visit Aruba shortly to discuss a security investigation by the international civil aviation organization ICAO. “This is a kingdom’s affair and pressure could be exerted on Curaçao from The Netherlands to put their affairs in order”, stated Steinmetz.

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