By Steve Thomas

Observer Nevis Editor

Photos courtesy of the Nevis Island Administration.

(Newcastle, Nevis) – After more than two weeks of scrambling, shipping, hard work and determination, the Vance Amory International Airport was reinstated to full operational service on Feb. 13, again allowing American Eagle flights to operate from the facility.

The return to fully operational status came hours after repair work and testing on the airport’s large fire truck were completed. Operations had been downgraded since late January when the truck became inoperable.

Although larger flights were halted, the airport was never closed, general manager Spencer Hanley said.

After repair work and testing of the fire truck was completed on Wednesday, the airport sent out a NOTAM – Notice To Airmen – that the airport was ready to resume full operations, he said.

“That is when we sent out the official notice,” Mr. Hanley said. “Officially, we are back.”

Mr. Hanley praised many people who helped keep things running during the period of reduced operations and the repair work. During this time, American Eagle passengers were ferried to St. Kitts and flew out of there.

Donna Myers of American Eagle “did all of the coordination for passengers going back and forth,” he said. “The taxi drivers played a significant role.” He praised the mechanics, airport staff and the airport manager, Stephen Hanley, for their efforts.

But the story isn’t over.

“We have a great need for another truck and plans (for getting one) are under way,” Mr. Hanley said.

A fire truck has to be custom-built and “can’t be bought from a showroom,” he said.

Members of the airport staff are working on the specifications for another large truck, he said.

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 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.