by Linda Straker
- Virgin Atlantic aircraft experienced “runway excursion” on Tuesday, 21 November
- Incident aircraft flown back to UK; replaced by another aircraft
- Incident stranded several passengers on flights enroute to Grenada
Prime Minister and National Security Minister Dickon Mitchell confirmed that the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) was closed for a little more than one hour on the evening of Tuesday, 21 November 2023 because of a runway accident involving a Virgin Atlantic aircraft.
“The report is that a Virgin Atlantic flight had a slight accident. I am saying this as preliminary information, so it is subject to final confirmation. We are told that the pilot started his turn a little too early and as a result had to stop,” he told journalists during a news conference on Wednesday, 22 November 2023.
“There was no damage to the airport or to the runway and as a result, a tug was used to pull the aircraft back to safety. As a result, the runway was closed between 6:27 pm and it reopened around 7:35 pm,” said Mitchell.
It is understood that the aircraft experienced a “runway excursion” while landing. This means that it veered off or overran the runway surface. These surface events, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), occur while an aircraft is taking off or landing, and involve many factors ranging from unstable approaches to the condition of the runway.
The Prime Minister further confirmed that the plane in the accident was flown back to the UK within hours of getting towed from the stuck location, and, out of an abundance of caution, another aircraft was sent to take care of the outgoing passengers. Virgin Atlantic currently flies an Airbus 330-300 with 264 seats to Grenada on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
The incident which occurred around the same time other flights were enroute to Grenada, caused stranded several passengers who had to return to their places of embarkation.