The Falkland Islands weekly Penguin News reports in its last edition that two Argentine aircraft carrying fourteen passengers for a cruise ship docked in Stanley landed last Saturday in the Islands Mount Pleasant Airport.
The vessel involved was the small vessel Hanse Explorer and its agents in the Falkland Islands confirmed the arrival of the two Cessna Citation jets, one had flown in from Comodoro Rivadavia, and the other one directly from Buenos Aires.
The passengers were all believed to be members of a single family, originally of Dutch origin, but now Canadians, all connected with a globally known electrical company.
The incident became public because a member of the Falklands elected Legislative Assembly, Roger Edwards revealed that he and fellow MLA Gavin Short had been strongly against granting permission to the two Argentine aircraft to land at Mount Pleasant, but they had been over-ruled by colleagues.
The original rumour circulating in Stanley was that an Argentine aircraft had landed at MPA last Sunday, carrying officials from the United Nations, but it turned out to be incorrect.
However it was later reported by the company responsible for refuelling in MPA of the arrival at MPA on Saturday of two planes from Argentina carrying 14 passengers for the cruise ship Hanse Explorer.
Assistant Director of Civil Aviation, Gerard Robson, told Penguin News that the aircraft, two Cessna Citations, belonged to a Buenos Aires based company, which organised private charters and in the past had provided aero-med services to the Falkland Islands.
Asked how such flights could be allowed in the face of what was generally believed to be a ban on all charter flights into the Islands, Mr Robson said that apart from Argentine Government policy, which the Falkland Islands was not bound to respect, as far as he was aware, there had never been an official ban on charter flights.
On receiving a request, for what were regarded as a private charter flights, Mr Robson said that provided all the aircraft and pilot’s documentation was in order, the request would be passed to Government House and the appropriate MLA for approval or denial.
MLA Roger Edwards, who in normal circumstances would have been the appropriate MLA to make a decision on the request, is adamant that the flights should not have been permitted. He believes that granting permission for these flights, which in his view concerned a group of rich people “basically going on holiday,” has set a dangerous precedent.
This month’s Legislative Assembly Chairperson, Jan Cheek, said there was a “fine line” between private and charter flights, but each request was considered on a case by case basis.(PN).-