The resumption of air travel to Barbados will depend on the impact of volcanic activity from the La Soufriere volcano in neighbouring St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Since the major eruption, which occurred around 3:00 p.m. on Friday, thick plumes of ash and dust have been affecting Barbados. This prompted the decision to close Barbados’ airspace and the Grantley Adams International Airport. International flights have also been cancelled.
Speaking during a press conference this afternoon, Chief Executive Officer of GAIA Inc., Hadley Bourne, said the preparations at the airport were underway since Thursday, based on consultation with the Barbados Meteorological Services and local and regional aviation authorities.
He explained that ensuring the safety of all was priority, stating: “Ash is detrimental to air travel. The airport provides basically all the navigation aids and telecommunications support to the Civil Aviation Department, so we took the conscious decision to protect our equipment by taking them offline, so that also would’ve affected being able to traverse the airspace from not only a safety standpoint, but also that of navigation.”
Meanwhile, Director of the Civil Aviation Authority, Tracey Forde-Bailey, said NOTAMS (notices which alert pilots of any flight hazards along the route) were issued to international carriers by way of the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority.
“With respect to the international flights, the coordination continues with the Area Control Centre, which is located in Trinidad and Tobago. The Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority will continue to issue advisories to all international flights.”
She added that authorities in Barbados were monitoring the situation to determine when it would be safe to reopen the national airspace to flights.
“On Sunday, the airport is expected to reopen if conditions change. Unfortunately, due to the volcanic activity, it is quite uncertain,” Mrs. Forde-Bailey stated, noting that updates would be provided in due course.