As flights between various countries are being canceled due to new immigration restrictions and border closures, we’re seeing quite a few airlines offering repatriation flights, to bring home citizens.
Both Iberia and KLM flew planes to Ecuador yesterday (to bring home Spanish and Dutch nationals, respectively), but things seemingly didn’t go as planned.
Let’s take the Iberia flight, for example, which was supposed to fly from Madrid to Guayaquil. While the flight was scheduled to operate to Guayaquil, during the flight the crew was informed they wouldn’t be allowed to land there, and would have to divert to Quito.
The mayor of Guayaquil takes credit for this decision, explaining she would do it again to “protect the city from the arrival of people who may have caught coronavirus.”
Of course the catch here is that the flights only had the crews onboard, which were supposed to spend a night in Guayaquil before returning home — they were trying to bring people out of the country, rather than get people in.
If she was so concerned, it seems like there could have been other solutions, like allowing the planes to land, but demanding that the crew stay in their hotel rooms for the entire layover. The decision seems more motivated by scoring some political points, rather than looking out for the best interesting of people.
To be extra safe (perhaps even paranoid?), the mayor had the police physically block the runway in Guayaquil, even though the planes came nowhere close to landing at the airport. While the flights did divert, that was done well before approach, and in the end the planes just had a normal route to Quito.
Guayaquil officials have blocked the runway at José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Ecuador to prevent international aircraft from arriving in the country. pic.twitter.com/ZAWmE4rrJ7
— Chris Clarke (@chrisclarkefly) March 18, 2020
The Ministry of Transport and Public Works allegedly opposed the decision of the government of Guayaquil.