torsdag 1. februar 2018

Good show, Atlantic City Intl. - Curt Lewis

Moscow flight diverted to Atlantic City International Airport

Anext Tour plane at Atlantic City International Airport. Jan, 31, 2018 (Craig Matthews / Staff Photographer)

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - A Russian flight headed from Moscow to Cuba was diverted Wednesday morning to Atlantic City International Airport after it suddenly became low on fuel, according to the federal Customs and Border Protection agency.

Mid-Atlantic spokesman Steve Sapp said the plane had to make an emergency landing in Atlantic City to refuel about 3:45 a.m. Once the plane landed, inspectors realized there was a fuel leak in the engine and it would not be able to take off again. Mechanics certified on the Boeing 767 worked to repair it, Sapp said.

The airline, Azur Air, was taking 294 passengers and 14 crew members to Havana, Cuba, through the tour company, Anex Tours.

A second jet arrived from Azur Air at about 7 p.m., and once loaded with passengers and baggage, it was scheduled to take the passengers Wednesday night to Cuba, Sapp said.

"From what we we're told, the flight that is supposed to take them to Cuba will be leaving Atlantic City around 9 o'clock tonight," Sapp said Wednesday evening.

The consulate general of the Russian Federation in New York had tweeted about the plane's status Wednesday.

The South Jersey Transportation Authority and local and State Police, as well as the FBI were on the scene assisting Wednesday. Sapp said Border Protection, which maintains a presence at Atlantic City International, although there are no public international flights, is the lead agency in this incident.

"We are because these are foreign nationals who do not have visas to enter the U.S.," he said.

Sapp said that although the flight did not have FAA clearance to land in the United States, the health and safety of the passengers superseded that.

"The passengers and crew are being taken care of right now. We have cots for them. People are bringing in food," Sapp said. "They're in generally good spirits. They just want to get on the next flight out to get their vacation started."

The passengers rested in a secured section of the airport, Sapp said. Besides cots and food, officials from local and state agencies, the South Jersey Transportation Authority and local volunteers provided water, comfort and language assistance to the stranded passengers, Sapp said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers paroled the 14-person crew into this country to rest at a nearby hotel to prepare for their later Wednesday flight to Cuba, Sapp said.

Rowan University history professor James Heinzen, a scholar of Russian history, was called in to serve as a translator.

He said this situation is "a good example of people coming together to help people who need some help."

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