THE ANR Robinson International Airport in Tobago was shut down last night after a Virgin Atlantic plane entered a closed-off section of the runway and blew a tyre which left the aircraft disabled.
In a press release last night, the Ministry of Transport announced that the airport has been closed until further notice.
The release stated:
"As at 8 p.m. tonight, A Virgin Airways Boeing 747 Ė 400 destined for Gatwick London inadvertibly encroached on a closed off section of the western taxi way.
"The aircraft inadvertently encroached on a section of the airport that was undergoing repairs and which was lit in red. As a result of the encroachment, one of the tyres on the aircraft was blown and the aircraft was disabled.
"In the circumstances the ANR Robinson Airport is currently closed, while the Civil Aviation Authority and Virgin Airlines are working assiduously to restore operations to normal."
The incident left Virgin Atlantic flight VF52 across the runway, a passenger on board the flight told the Express by phone last night.
The 452 passengers on board VF52 were asked to disembark one hour after the incident and the entire airport was then closed.
Soca artiste Machel Montano was one of the passengers.
No one was said to have been injured during the incident.
"At this point in time the Ministry is not aware of all the necessary and relevant facts and circumstances that resulted in this occurrence, but extremely thankful that there has been no loss of life or limb," the release from the Ministry stated.
"The Ministry of Transport would like to advise that all contingency plans are in place to accommodate passengers who have been displaced by the mishap that has occurred with a Virgin Atlantic plane at the ANR Robinson International Airport," the release stated.
Private cars and taxis were called and took passengers away from the airport.
"For the travelling public between Trinidad and Tobago; contingency plans are being put in place by the relevant Authorities to ensure that travel between the two islands continues to be facilitated," the release from the Ministry stated.
"The Inter Island ferry remains committed to fill any void that may have arisen. The relevant Authorities are working feverishly to ensure that service to the Airport is resumed in the shortest possible time."