Haiti’s airport under pressure


A Humvee is rapidly deployed from a 41st Airlift Squadron C-130J during an engine running off-load at Port-au-Prince International Airport. US Air Force image/Staff Sgt. Chad Chisholm
A Humvee is rapidly deployed from a 41st Airlift Squadron C-130J during an engine running off-load at Port-au-Prince International Airport. US Air Force image/Staff Sgt. Chad Chisholm

Space at Haiti’s Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport near Port-au-Prince is causing problems.

January 18: Space at Haiti’s Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport near Port-au-Prince is causing problems to the international relief effort responding to the earthquake of January 12, says the US Air Force.
With one 9,900ft runway and a small aircraft parking apron, no more than 44 aircraft can be accommodated at any one time. According to an report on AvWeb, the airport’s control tower was knocked out of action during the earthquake and USAF Special Tactics personnel controlled initial operations for Operation ‘Unified Response’.
“We arrived the first evening with three aircraft,” said Colonel ‘Buck’ Elton, Joint Special Operations Task Force commander from Hurlburt Field in Florida in a news release from the air force. “Within 28 minutes we established command and control, airfield management, and were able to land aircraft that night. On a typical day, the Port-au-Prince airport lands about three aircraft – since we landed Wednesday, over 600 aircraft have landed and taken off.”
Haitian air controllers returned to duty on Friday, providing long range control while the USAF combat controllers prioritise incoming aircraft, direct landings and take-offs while balancing confined parking ramp space. Priorities and landing times are determined by the Government of Haiti in consultation with the United States government and the UN Mission in Haiti.
“By using the slot system, we have been able to maximize the number of relief supplies the airport has been able to take in,” said Colonel Elton. “We have it so that when one aircraft departs, another takes its place.”