The arrival of two Russian cargo airplanes at Piarco over the last month is in keeping with customary procedures, according to the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (AATT).
Guardian Media reported on Saturday that the Russian-manufactured Ilyushin plane, which arrived on Thursday and the other owned by Volga-Dnepr Cargo Airlines which has been here for almost a month had raised concerns among various immigration and airport officials.
On Saturday, AATT corporate communications manager Zola Joseph said: “Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago wishes to advise that technical stops were requested for two Ilyushin cargo aircraft at the Piarco International Airport, which were facilitated by the appropriate regulatory authorities. It is customary at all airports, for international cargo aircraft to make such stops.”
The AATT added: “It is important to note that technical stops for reasons inclusive of rest, refuelling, repair or crew change have taken place for years by cargo aircraft at this country’s airports. Trinidad’s geographic location, the length of the runway at the Piarco International Airport and the routes served by some cargo companies make Piarco an important strategic point. Parking and landing of cargo airfreight are a part of the revenue earning business of the Authority.”
In response to a question about whether the planes were here because of the economic crisis in neighbouring Venezuela, the AATT said: “We do not have any information that there is any relation to the current situation in Venezuela.”
In a confidential immigration document obtained exclusively by Guardian Media, the eight crew members of the Volga-Dnepr Cargo Airlines said they had dropped off cargo in French Guiana and arrived two days later in Trinidad.
They told immigration authorities that they requested a fuel stop and crew rest in Trinidad.
One of the pilots Mikhail Miniakov told authorities “after dropping off the cargo which they had picked up in Italy, they transported containers to French Guiana but could give no information as to what they containers contained.”