In a joint press release, both local Belize airlines Tropic Air and Maya Island Air are informing the public of the suspension of all scheduled flights to the island of Caye Caulker effective October 1, 2017.
The press release states: “The present state of the runway at the island’s airstrip exhibits severe deterioration. As a result, this precautionary measure is necessary to avoid safety and operational challenges beyond acceptable margins for public flight service.”
The release says that this information has been shared with the Belize Airports Authority and Caye Caulker’s Village Council, accompanied by a request for urgent renovation of the runway in order to meet the island’s approaching tourism high season.
"As a daily commuter I can personally attest that the runway is an a dire situation," commented Alberto Villanueva, former Chairman of Caye Caulker for three terms. "The last time there was a suspension of flights to Caye Caulker it was done so by both Tropic Air and Maya Island Air to force the BAA and/or Civil Aviation to act. The work done back then by either BAA and/or Civil Aviation was merely cosmetic. The current situation of the runway is one where I cringe each time the aircraft lands. It also begs to answer the question where does the rider fee go each time a passenger lands on the CUK runway. I am told by senior executives of one of the airlines that it will cost $7 Million to upgrade the runway to standards such as the Belize Municipal Airport. The projected timeline is also nine months. Judging by the standard Government of Belize, the BAAA and Civil Aviation worked on the Municipal Airstrip we may be looking at two years, this is certainly unacceptable for our island. This closure leads to a loss of revenue for our island as well as a loss of jobs for the folks at the Tropic Air and Maya Island Air Terminal. My heart goes out to them. This is one story where I believe that while the people of Caye Caulker suffer no government agency or its representative gives a hoot about us. We are like the stepchild no-one wants."
Air service will resume to Caye Caulker immediately after completion of necessary renovation works to rehabilitate the island’s airstrip. Travelers with itineraries, reservations or tickets to Caye Caulker should contact their respective carrier for information regarding the status of the journey and available alternatives to reach this popular island destination.