I am writing in response to the article "An Embarrassment for Moncton Airport," written by Bill Belliveau, which ran on October 6. I would like to clarify some of the misinformation in the article about the Canada Border Services Agency's (CBSA) response to the international flight diversion on October 2, and the Agency's overall role at the Moncton International Airport.
Mr. Belliveau is correct in stating that the flight arrived at 3:45 a.m. However, to suggest that CBSA officers were absent from the scene that morning is simply not correct.
The CBSA was contacted to attend the scene at 5:15 a.m. and was on site just before 6 a.m. Since the airline was working to arrange a replacement aircraft and hoped to transfer passengers directly onto it (without having to clear customs and immigration, or reissue new boarding passes) the pilot requested that no passengers disembark the aircraft at that time. However, later in the morning, when it was determined that the new aircraft would not arrive until hours later, the airline decided to allow passengers to leave the aircraft. CBSA officers were standing by to begin the customs and immigration clearance process, which was completed in approximately two hours at 10:15 a.m.
Furthermore, on the broader matter of CBSA services at the Moncton International Airport, I am pleased to advise that since 2008 the Agency offers 16 hours-a-day service, seven days a week, from 8:00 a.m. to midnight, contrary to what Mr. Belliveau suggests. Normally, there are no scheduled flights in Moncton after midnight that require CBSA customs and immigration services. However, there is an effective protocol in place for the provision of CBSA services in the event of a medical or mechanical emergency, such as this one, that requires a diverted flight to land outside of normal CBSA working hours. Additionally, during certain times of the year, when there are scheduled flights after midnight, such as the busy charter season, CBSA officers provide service to the Moncton Airport on a cost-recovery basis. We continually monitor the requirements at the airport and work closely with our partners, such as the Greater Moncton Airport Authority in our planning activities.
The CBSA has excellent partnerships with a variety of air industry stakeholders in delivering a professional and courteous service to our clients, as was demonstrated during this emergency event. These stakeholders include commercial and charter airlines; national air transport and tourism associations; federal government partners such as Transport Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada; as well as local Airport Authorities.
Canada Border Services Agency
Southern New Brunswick and PEI District