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Airplane adversities: The plain facts

Published:Sunday | January 3, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Reporter

The financial woes of Air Jamaica usually grabs the headlines when it comes to the local airline industry, but the 'Love Bird' had to take a back seat in 2009.

A botched hijacking at the Donald Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay and the crash of an American Airlines flight at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, were two of the biggest incidents that took place in Jamaica last year.

Both late-evening events made international news. The first involved Stephen Fray, a 22-year-old man from Montego Bay who broke through security at the Sangster airport in April, then hijacked a CanJet flight 918 destined for Nova Scotia, Canada.

Fray, who was armed with his father's licensed firearm, held the 160 crew and passengers hostage for just over six hours before a security team stormed the plane and arrested him. He was hit with eight charges including three counts of shooting with intent and robbery with aggravation. Although a clinical psychologist testified during his trial that Fray was mentally unstable, he was given a 83-year prison sentence in October.

plane crash

American Airlines flight 331 overshot the runway at the Norman Manley airport on December 22, crashing through its perimeter fence and missed entering the sea by 15 metres.

None of the 152 passengers and crew were killed, but 92 of them were hospitalised. The Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority is leading an investigation into what caused the accident which also involves the National Transport Safety Board and a technical crew from American Airlines.

The Government continued its search for a buyer for Air Jamaica. In December, it was announced that a Trinidadian conglomerate was the latest potential buyer.