Gov’t arranging departure of 253 passengers who arrived on a German charter flight last Thursday

The National Security Ministry has indicated that plans are being put in place for the departure of a German-registered aircraft, that arrived on the island on Thursday, with 253 passengers, including crew members.

It says the passengers, which consist of Indians, Germans, and Uzbek nationals, are at the Norman Manley International Airport, awaiting the finalization of arrangements for their departure.

The Ministry says the German charter flight arrived in Jamaica legally on Thursday, May 2, having received the requisite approvals for operation from the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority.

It explains that despite having arrangements in place for accommodation and departure from the country, the passengers were refused entry by immigration officials, based on security concerns uncovered during their processing at the airport.

The Ministry says the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) in collaboration with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has been leading the operational response since the arrival of the individuals.

It explains that passenger flights are routinely screened by local authorities for security threats and possible breaches of laws and/or regulations.

In this instance, the Ministry says while it was alerted to the operation of the flight based on what appeared to be anomalies and missing details from its initial permit application, the necessary supporting documents were later supplied to satisfy the requirements for obtaining a permit to operate to Jamaica.

Notwithstanding, the Ministry says it continued to consult with law enforcement while the flight received clearance to operate, and the immigration authorities undertook pre-screening activities, as per standard operating procedures.

Upon landing in Jamaica, it was discovered that there were two passengers on the flight that did not appear on the submitted passenger manifest.

This led to further investigations by PICA and based on those enhanced checks, the decision was taken by PICA, not to grant the passengers leave to land in Jamaica.

Given the duration of the flight, as well as civil aviation regulations for the minimum rest period, before clearance is given to operate safely, it was deemed impractical to detain the passengers in the plane or at the airport.

Having regard to their reservations at the ROK hotel in downtown Kingston, the Ministry says the travellers and airline crew members were allowed to leave the airport on humanitarian grounds and escorted to the hotel by law enforcement and immigration personnel.

It notes that this form of supervised release is in keeping with the provisions of the Immigration Restriction (Commonwealth Citizens) Act and the Aliens Act.

The Ministry stresses that the passengers remained accounted for. It notes further that the cost of their accommodation and return will solely be the responsibility of the charter company and not the government of Jamaica.

The update from the Ministry follows this morning’s call from the Opposition for clarity to be provided regarding the alleged unauthorized landing of over 200 individuals on a chartered flight last week.


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