This Wednesday night at the Jose Joaquin Olmedo airport in Guayaquil, an unusual image has been experienced on the runway. An Iberia plane from Madrid, without passengers, was trying to take the runway when it was suddenly seen how several official vehicles were preventing it.
This blockade responded to an order that had been unilaterally given by the mayor of Guayaquil, the conservative Cynthia Viteri, for according to her, protect the city from the arrival of people potentially at risk by Covid-19. Vehicles entered without authorization at the airport to prevent the landing of an Iberia Airbus A340 and a Dutch KLM Boeing 777.
“I take responsibility of having sent the vehicles of the Municipality of Guayaquil to prevent the Iberia plane from landing here with eleven passengers (crew) from Madrid, to stay in Guayaquil, the focus of infection and risk, more than any other city, “said Viteri.” I take responsibility for protecting my city “and “I will do it a thousand times” he added.
#International The municipality of Guayaquil has blocked the runway at the Jose Joaquin de Olmedo airport with municipal and traffic authority vehicles, preventing the landing of flight IBE6453, which local media report was on its way to repatriate European passengers. pic.twitter.com/7aec8mTrWk
– EnElAire (@Enel_Aire) March 19, 2020
He even pointed out that he had previously spoken with authorities such as the country’s vice president, Otto Sonnenholzner, who hours before the events had stated that the province of Guayas, whose capital is Guayaquil, was armored with strong restrictions to prevent them from entering or leaving people in this jurisdiction, the most affected by coronavirus cases.
He rebuked the Ecuadorian authorities for having gathered at the Guayaquil air terminal about 200 foreigners, despite the danger of this, considering that the city is the most affected due to illness.
The mayor asked herself “how is it that the Government itself, which says that nobody enters and nobody leaves the province”, allows the entry of foreigners and an airplane that came from Spain, focus of the first contagion that was detected in Ecuador, with a crew that was going to stay in a hotel in the city until it could take off next Friday of this week.
This type of aircraft arrive empty to collect European citizens that they are having difficulties returning to their homes due to border closings and air traffic obstacles as a result of the measures taken to stop the global pandemic.
Authorities upload video showing that the Iberia plane that was heading to Guayaquil has no passengers. The mayor of Guayaquil assured that the problem was that the crew (pilot-stewardesses) intended to sleep in the city. pic.twitter.com/eNUxHGtpW3
– La Posta Ec (@LaPosta_Ecu) March 19, 2020
The Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation
The Ecuadorian Prosecutor’s Office reported today that it has opened a previous investigation for a controversial action by municipal workers that prevented the landing of two European planes, one of them from Iberia, without passengers at the Guayaquil airport, the city most affected by the coronavirus in the country, and the other, a KLM from the Netherlands.
The Public Ministry, in a Twitter message, indicated that it has started an inquiry “about the facts this afternoon at the Jose Joaquin de Olmedo airport in the city of Guayaquil. ”
Today, automobiles and trucks from the Municipality of Guayaquil burst onto the runway of the air terminal to prevent the landing of the aircraft, which it had to be diverted to the Quito airport.
This is the KLM plane that was prevented from landing at the Guayaquil airport. pic.twitter.com/FaATR3fBnG
– Bessy Granja Barriga (@bessygranjaOK) March 18, 2020
Complaint from the Ministry of Transport
The Ministry of Transport and Public Works, in a statement, held the Guayaquil mayor’s office responsible for hindering planned air activity within the state of health emergency that the country lives due to the presence of Covid-19 cases.
“We hold the municipal body responsible due to the lack of emergency flights and authorized flights previously to take foreign passengers to their destinations, “said the Ministry in its statement, which also rejected “any attempt at violence on the international airstrips that the country has. ”
He also recalled that the Emergency Operations Committee (COE) allowed the departure of international flights with foreign passengers from the Guayaquil airport.
“The planes of foreign airlines that can land at the Quito and Guayaquil airports have to Arrive without passengers (only with crew) and have the respective authorizations, “mentioned the State portfolio.
In addition, he indicated that the Guayaquil air terminal had gathered about 200 foreign passengers that they were waiting for the arrival of a plane from the Dutch airline KLM to be able to return to their places of origin but were unable to do so for the “arbitrary closure of the track”.
ATTENTION: Municipality of Guayaquil breaks into the operations of the Jose Joaquin de Olmedo Airport, standing on the runway with ATM cars and municipal police.
According to information, there was no authorization for this type of action. pic.twitter.com/YrEzfOCNBt
– Guayaquil Aviation (@AviacionGYE) March 18, 2020
Landing in Quito
This aircraft did land at the Mariscal Sucre “airport in Quito, where 170 passengers boarded, while the Iberia plane also landed at that terminal with its eleven person crew, remarked the Ministry.
Additionally, the ministry indicated that it has provided that the exceptional entry of passenger and cargo aircraft is authorized, with crew and without passengers, to air terminals in the Galapagos Archipelago, about a thousand kilometers west of the country’s continental coasts.
That measure too involves the return of those aircraft to the continent, with crew and passengers, between March 18 and 21, prior to compliance with the requirements of the case.
“We appeal to sanity of the local authorities to articulate actions that allow us to avoid the spread of the virus, which we can overcome with teamwork and responsibility, “the Ministry added in its brief.