PNP urges urgent strengthening of airspace security to combat illegal landings
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Following news of the discovery of the burnt remains of an aircraft in St Elizabeth last weekend, Junior Shadow Minister of National Security and Defence, Jouvaughnie Byfield, is expressing concern about an alleged illegal landing strip in the parish.
The junior shadow minister expressed that the St Elizabeth crash fits a developing pattern following a similar ‘crash landing’ in Clarendon in 2021 and the seizure of US$ 25 million of cocaine at Ian Fleming Airport in 2022.
According to a release on Thursday, the Opposition member says these incidents suggest that the use of Jamaica as a transit point or destination for illegal drugs and other contraband continues apace.
“It is fair to assume that only a small percentage of these illicit flights end in aircraft crashes or drug seizures,” the release read in part.
The shadow minister expressing that despite investigations, the police are yet to make headway in “identifying the origins of the planes, the pilots, the passengers, or the contraband that was aboard at the time of the crash.”
“This represents a failure of the monitoring of air traffic, intelligence collection, and post-incident investigation,” the release continued. “These illicit flights represent a risk to commercial aviation in Jamaica as well as the potential to facilitate drug and gun smuggling, human trafficking, and terrorism.”
“The crash landings underscore the pressing need for enhanced surveillance, control, and enforcement strategies to safeguard our airspace. The current loopholes in our systems have allowed unauthorised aircraft to exploit vulnerabilities and compromise our aviation safety and national security,” Byfield said.
The junior shadow minister said he is therefore calling on the government to set out a “clear and effective policy response so that all sectors of society can be reassured as to the safety and effective control of Jamaica’s airspace.”