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Flight from Dominican Republic forced to turn back

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Lawrence Scott, the former Minister of Transport, is the CEO of ScottsCraft (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

A direct flight from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic had to turn back on Monday without landing in Bermuda.

Lawrence Scott, the chief executive of ScottsCraft, the parent company of TXKF Direct, the charter service, explained that the aircraft returned to its point of departure because of an equipment malfunction.

In an e-mail to The Royal Gazette, he said. “The reason the aircraft turned around was that the long-range (HF) radio equipment needed to communicate with the air traffic control tower stopped working while en route, and the captain decided to return to the DR out of an abundance of caution.”

The Embraer 145 was rerouted back to Santo Domingo about an hour into the 2½-hour flight. It was to land at about 7pm in Bermuda.

Image of the TXKF Direct flight’s path

Yesterday, Jason Inniss, the director of airport operations at LF Wade International Airport, confirmed that the aircraft had turned back mid-flight.

He said: “Skyport can confirm that on Monday a commercial aircraft en route to Bermuda from Santo Domingo Las Americas International Airport encountered a minor technical issue after departure. The technical issue with the aircraft required the crew to return to Santo Domingo.”

The news comes just days after Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour, issued Immigration and Protection (Prohibition of Entry) Order 2023, which requires passengers from 115 countries, including the Dominican Republic, to have a transit visa to enter Bermuda.

The order, issued on Friday, says that persons from the countries listed may not enter Bermuda unless “they have travel authorisation to enter and re-enter Canada, the United Kingdom or the United States, such travel authorisation being valid for a period of 45 days from the date of intended departure from Bermuda”.

Alternatively, they may enter if they can produce a letter issued by the Government of Bermuda attesting that they are a spouse of a Bermudian or belong to Bermuda for reasons set out in the Constitution.

TXKF Direct plans to introduce a flight from Jamaica, another country on the list requiring the visa.

Mr Scott told ZBM: “We are aware of the order and have received legal opinion that it should not impact our passengers as we are operating within the legislation which has seemingly not been amended.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Economy and Labour told The Royal Gazettepreviously: “The Department of Immigration’s visa policy is aligned with legislation and clearly sets out guidance with respect to persons requiring visas to enter Bermuda.

“All visa-controlled nationals must present the relevant documents upon arrival or risk being returned on the next-available commercial flight.

“In this case, Jamaicans and Dominicans are considered visa-controlled nationals as prescribed in the policy. They are required to be in possession of the necessary visa upon their arrival in Bermuda.”

Mr Scott said at the time: “The Bermuda direct charter flight will operate as per the existing legislation and the Immigration and Protection Act 1956 sections 28 and 32.

“With an awareness of the legislation, the spirit, implication and intent, the sale of tickets has always been managed accordingly.

“Now, the significance of our focus is on bringing Bermudian families together between the various Caribbean destinations serviced. This is consistent with the fact that the law and policies haven't changed.”

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Published August 16, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated August 16, 2023 at 8:00 am)

Flight from Dominican Republic forced to turn back

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