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Aircraft clips light pole while parking at CHS

Aerospace
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A flight that was diverted to Charleston International Airport Monday morning to avoid bad weather in New York had issues while parking the aircraft, causing passengers to be stranded in Charleston for a day, the airport said.

The flight by Ecuador airline Tame originated in Peru, made a stop in Ecuador and was en route to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The jet was diverted to Charleston at 9:30 a.m. to wait out the weather in New York and top off its fuel, said Jim Peacher, the Charleston County Aviation Authority’s deputy director and COO.

During parking, however, the aircraft clipped a light pole. No one was injured, but the aircraft could not continue to its destination, leaving the 271 passengers and 10 crew members stranded.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection cleared everyone aboard for entry into the U.S., to determine next steps. The airline decided to fly in a replacement aircraft, but it did not arrive Monday night, Peacher said, adding the reason was unknown.

“As a result, some passengers spent the night in the airport while many were taken to local hotels, then picked up Tuesday morning and brought back to the airport,” Peacher said.

The airline contracted with a charter air service to fly to Charleston and make the trip to New York. About 150 people departed on the first flight, around noon Tuesday; 70 passengers boarded a second charter flight around 7 p.m. Tuesday. Some opted to make other travel arrangements.

“While no one expects to find themselves stranded in a strange airport and passengers were understandably tired and frustrated, airport employees worked tirelessly through the night Monday and throughout Tuesday to help passengers, provide information and make them comfortable until they were able to resume their travels to New York,” Peacher said.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.

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