Honduran capital's main airport reopens six weeks after jetliner crash

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

A 757 landing at the airport
Image: Enrique Galeano Morales.

Toncontin International Airport, serving the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, has reopened fully to air traffic six weeks after a deadly jetliner crash. TACA Flight 390, an Airbus A320 carrying 124 people, overshot the runway in poor weather and ran across a busy street, killing five, two of whom were on the ground. The accident occurred on May 30.

Since the crash the airport has refused to allow aircraft with more than 42 passengers on board to operate from the airport due to safety fears. Only domestic flights were allowed to land. Air traffic that did not conform to these rules instead landed at San Pedro Sula's Ramón Villeda Morales International Airport, which is 112 miles North of Tegucigalpa.

Manuel Zelaya, President of Honduras, announced the reopening after spending three hours in a meeting with businessmen who demanded the airport return to full operations. He also said that future plans are to route all commercial traffic to a new airport under construction at a nearby US air base, which is scheduled to enter service next year.

So far, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Panama's Copa Airlines and TACA have all confirmed intent to resume flights to Toncontin International next week, by which time they will have reprogrammed their routing schedules accordingly.

The airport is considered one of the most dangerous in the world and for years people have called for its replacement. The airport features an inadequately short runway, outdated navigational equipment and is surrounded by hills.


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