By Steve Thomas
Observer Nevis Editor
(Newcastle, Nevis) – Mechanics will be standing by when the transmission needed to fix the airport fire truck arrives and if all things come together, American Eagle will be able to resume flights in and out of Nevis on Saturday, Feb. 9, or the following day, according to the facility’s general manager.
American Eagle halted flights out of Nevis on Jan. 26 after the large fire truck developed transmission problems, which temporarily changed the airport’s category.
The Vance Amory International Airport is normally rated as a Category 5 facility, which means it meets safety requirements to handle the ATR-72 aircraft flown by American Eagle. The ATR-72 accommodates 50-60 passengers.
With the large fire truck not operating, the airport is reclassified as a Category 3 facility, which means it has the emergency equipment available to handle smaller planes, like those operated by Winair and Liat.
The fire truck’s transmission is scheduled to arrive in St. Kitts on the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 8, according to Spencer Hanley, general manager of the Nevis Air and Sea Ports. Plans are in place to expedite the customs process and move it to Nevis as soon as possible.
“We will start work on it as soon as it gets over,” Mr. Hanley said. “We will have the mechanics standing by. We will work into the night. We will go as long as we can go.”
Once the truck is repaired and tested, the airline can resume flights on three hours’ notice, he said.
If things go as hoped, American Eagle might resume operations with a 2 p.m. flight on Saturday or if things take a little longer, the first flight could come at 5 p.m.
“If, for any reason, there is a delay beyond our control, I am 99 percent optimistic we will be up and running on Sunday,” Mr. Hanley said.