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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jan 1970

    Nearly 200 passengers on a Taca flight from El Salvador...

    193 passengers spend 9 hours on plane grounded in Ontario due to fog
    From wire service reports
    Posted: 12/01/2008 06:48:55 AM PST

    Nearly 200 passengers on a Taca flight from El Salvador finally landed in Los Angeles Monday after spending about nine hours in a grounded airplane that had been diverted to a smaller regional airport due to heavy fog.

    The 193 passengers were forced to remain on the aircraft because local authorities did not give permission for them to go through customs and enter the country, El Salvador-based Taca said in a printed release.

    However, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Mike Fleming said the airline did not ask for permission to let the passngers disembark.

    "If they had, we would have provided a secure area to let them off the plane," Fleming said.

    The Airbus A-321 aircraft couldn't land at Los Angeles International Airport late Sunday and was diverted to LA/Ontario International Airport some 45 miles to the east, Ontario spokeswoman Maria Tesoro-Fermin said.

    The flight from San Salvador to Los Angeles usually takes 4 hours, Taca spokeswoman Alexandra Arias Cader said.

    A new crew took over in Ontario because previous personnel had exceeded maximum flight hours, Tesoro-Fermin said.


  2. #2
    Senior Member azwreath's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Oh? So what did this El Salavodoran airline expect.....that these foreign nationals were just going to get off the plane without permission from our government and then go wherever?

    I'd like to know what the real story behind this flight is
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jan 1970

    RE: El Salvadoran

    Quote Originally Posted by azwreath
    Oh? So what did this El Salavodoran airline expect.....that these foreign nationals were just going to get off the plane without permission from our government and then go wherever?

    I'd like to know what the real story behind this flight is

    Ontario Airport is about 60 miles from L.A. in Riverside. There is a significant Latino population out there. If they were released the El Salvadoran passengers could have easily blended into the local population and would have been gone.

    I, for one, am happy to hear that U.S. Customs did their jobs.


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 1970

    Follow up.

    Delay, confusion keep travelers
    stuck inside jetliner for 9 hours
    By Art Marroquin, Staff Writer
    Posted: 12/01/2008 11:04:29 PM PST

    TACA International Airlines Flight 670 originated from San Salvador and was sent to Ontario airport just before midnight, confining all 191 passengers until the Airbus A320-100 airliner was cleared to land at LAX at 9:20a.m., according to authorities.

    The situation led to confusion among airline and federal authorities, who blamed each other for the prolonged delay.

    TACA officials claimed that airport personnel and federal authorities refused to allow passengers to get off the plane.

    "The airline wasn't given local authorities' permission for its passengers to disembark, go through customs and enter the country through this point, forcing the passengers to remain on board the aircraft," TACA executives said in a statement.

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said the airline had never asked for permission to disembark and declined repeated offers for assistance.

    "We did not block anyone from getting off any flights," said Carlos Martel, U.S. Customs' port director for LAX.

    "In a situation like this, we are very sensitive to delays and we will do anything within our power to accommodate the passengers," Martel said. "It's unfortunate there was not better coordination
    in this matter, but internal issues within TACA are what caused this problem."

    Two TACA flights were diverted from LAX to Ontario within minutes of each other late Sunday night. Shortly afterward, airline officials told airport and customs authorities that they planned to refuel both planes, wait for the fog to clear and move on to LAX by 2a.m., according to airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles.

    TACA's flight crews declined several offers to process the passengers at Ontario, then send them to LAX by bus, customs officials said. The news prompted customs agents to leave Ontario airport by 1:30a.m., because the passengers on both TACA flights would undergo federal screening at LAX.

    Although one of the TACA flights went on to LAX early Monday, Flight 670 remained grounded at Ontario. In the meantime, customs inspectors stayed at LAX until 3a.m., waiting to process a flight that never took off from Ontario.

    "We had customs staff working late at both airports ready to help," Martel said.

    It was unclear why Flight 670 did not continue to LAX, he said. A total of 40 cargo and passenger flights were diverted overnight to Ontario due to foggy conditions. Travelers were placed on a bus and taken to their respective airports in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Orange County and San Diego.

    LAX officials speculated that the pilot might not have been certified to fly in foggy weather. Additionally, the plane might not be equipped with a navigation system that would have helped the pilot fly through the early morning fog that shrouded LAX.

    "If that was the case, then I think it may have been overly optimistic by the flight crew to think the plane would be cleared to take off so quickly," Castles said. "Instead, it turned into a situation that dragged on for hours."

    As the hours passed, the plane's passengers started calling 911, customs authorities, the airline and the media, desperately trying to contact anyone who might be able to get them off the plane, Castles said.

    By 4a.m., Ontario police and firefighters, along with airport police and staffers, gathered on the tarmac and waited to see what would happen next.

    TACA's crew said it would remain at Ontario airport.

    Airport staff members finally delivered food and water to the passengers at 6:30a.m. Medical personnel were allowed on board to examine at least three passengers who complained of low blood pressure and other minor ailments. No one was hospitalized.

    The grounded flight was further delayed when a new TACA flight crew took over the plane at 7a.m. because the previous crew had exceeded maximum flight hours.

    Jose Reyes, 53, of El Salvador, told The Associated Press that he pleaded with the flight crew to allow passengers to get off the plane and board a bus to LAX.

    "They didn't listen to us. They only said `I'm sorry,"' he said.

    Earlier this year, Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-El Segundo, introduced a bill that would have required airlines to provide basic amenities to stranded passengers. The measure came just months after more than 19,000 travelers were trapped on airplanes and the customs screening area at LAX, due to a pair of computer glitches in August 2007.

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed Lieu's measure earlier this year, while the state Senate rejected a similar bill submitted by then-Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. Lieu said he plans to submit another proposal aimed at protecting airline passenger rights by the start of 2009.

    "In the 21st century, you should not have passengers confined to a small space for long periods of time," said Lieu, whose district includes LAX.

    "At least on this particular flight they were given food and water, but no one should be left sitting on a plane for nine hours," he said. "I think this is an issue that the public is demanding a resolution on."


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