By the Caribbean Journal staff
The Caribbean’s busiest airport has reopened following Hurricane Irma.
Puerto Rico’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan is operating again, a major boost for the region given its position as the busiest airport in the Caribbean by annual passenger volume.
Airport officials said there was no damage to the airport’s infrastructure due to Irma, and even on Thursday the airport was in position to restart air operations.
“We expect airlines to activate their operations according to their protocols,” the airport said in a statement.
Of course, there will not be any flights from Florida to Puerto Rico, given that the state is still in the direct path of Irma.
San Juan will be increasingly important for the Caribbean with its role as a regional hub, given the devastation at St Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport and the uncertain timeframe for that airport’s recovery.
Indeed, Caribbean regional airline Seaborne, which is based at Luis Munoz Marin, is launching its “Seaborne Cares” program to establish relief flights across the Caribbean, including in the US Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Antigua and St Maarten.
“We will be collecting supplies of water, canned food, medicines and first aid kits. We will work with appropriate authorities to distribute in the stations affected as our flight loads permit,” the airline said in a statement.
The airport will boost Puerto Rico’s crucial tourism sector, which has largely returned to “business as usual,” according to Clarisa Jimenez, President and CEO of the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association.
Overall, the island is beginning to recover from what was effectively a “side swipe” but not a direct hit from Hurricane Irma, with electrical operations and telecommunications slowly improving.
Service as the island’s Rafael Hernández Airport has also been reestablished, and most tourism activity in both hotels and attractions are up and running, she said.
“Our heartfelt thanks to all who kept us in their thoughts and prayers. As of today, most of the essentials services in the Island are fully operational,” Jimenez stated. “On the tourism side, the infrastructure such as hotels, attractions, and restaurants, among others, are already working with power generators, or the system has been restored. Government agencies are working hand in hand with the private sector to complete a general situation assessment.”