British Airways has apologised for severe delays to a flight from Heathrow to Cayman, via Nassau.
There had been reports of smoke in the cockpit on BA253 from London on Friday, 6 May, but these were not confirmed by the carrier.
BA did, however, say that the plane returned to the London area airport after about three-and-a-half hours in the air.
“We apologise to our customers on the BA253 from Heathrow to Nassau. A technical issue meant the flight crew elected to return to Heathrow in order for the aircraft to be inspected by engineers… [the craft] then had to do a crew and aircraft change once they arrived in London,” read a statement by the carrier to the Compass.
BA253/06 arrived at Grand Cayman at 02.40am on Saturday, 7 May.
“We are very sorry for the delay. We always prioritise the health and safety of our customers and crew,” the airlines said.
The departure of the return flight was also delayed as a result.
Officers on duty
Collie Powery of
Her Majesty’s Customs Service of the Cayman Islands confirmed that officers remained on duty in order to process the passengers under normal procedures.
“We were notified and our officers were prepared to process the passengers. The other aspect is the freight office warehouse as we have a lot of freight from Europe on that flight. The preparations are the same.
“These things happen in the aviation business but you just have to be there,” he said.
Depending on how full the flight is, there could be up to eight officers on duty, said Mr. Powery. The normal hours for customs end at 11pm, after which the airline is liable.
“The airline picks up the tab for any flight that is delayed after normal working hours and we will bill them accordingly,” he said.
The Cayman Islands Airport Authority declined to comment for this article. However, according to the authority’s website, an additional 50 per cent of landing charge is levied for flights between midnight and midday according to Coordinated Universal Time, known as UTC, which
is used at airports. According to that calculation, the flight landed at around 06.45 UTC.
Upon being notified of a flight’s late arrival into Grand Cayman, the senior immigration officer on duty immediately determines the feasibility of either keeping officers on to cover the arriving flight or calling out the next shift of officers to cover the flight, explained the acting inspector of border control at the Cayman Islands Department of Immigration, Pheadra Spence-McDonald.
“This is determined on the time the last shift for the evening leaves, the time the flight will be arriving, flight load and how the expense will impact the department as this is paid by the department.
“For this specific flight, British Airways, as we were made aware early in the previous evening that it would be arriving at 2.50am it was determined that it would be more practical to have the 5am shift come out three hours early to process the arriving and departing passengers as the night shift was scheduled to depart at 9pm [which was] six hours prior [to landing].”
She added that staff had been contacted by 6.30pm regarding their shift changes. In the event, five staff were placed on arrivals to process the estimated 80 incoming passengers, with two of the more senior officers placed on departures to process the estimated outgoing amount of 70 passengers.
“The reason for this is because departures are more free-flowing and the main focus was clearing the inbound passengers in a timely manner as they would be very tired and need to be processed as quickly as possible.
“The senior officer on duty for the next morning was contacted regarding the changes, loads etc. and advised that normal landing procedures for certain individuals were to be made. Example, a person coming to work or who have conditions on their work permits, who would normally have to meet those conditions on arrivals would instead be given temporary admission for 24 hours to rest before completing the process of their landing,” she said.