City’s desperate move to stop arriving plane
The European Union is aiming to make sure Ecuador's airports remain open after officials in Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city, attempted to stop an arriving flight from Spain last week.
Cynthia Viteri, the mayor of Guayaquil, confirmed she supported local officials in blocking off a runway at the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport, which they accomplished by strategically placing trucks in the path of any incoming aircraft, Fox News reported.
The move was designed to stop an arriving Iberia Airlines flight that was sent to retrieve and evacuate European citizens, Reuters reported.
Footage taken by a helicopter above the airport on Wednesday shows at least a dozen trucks parked on the landing strip.
En #Ecuador, Autoridades del Municipio de #Guayaquil disponen que unidades invadan la pista del aeropuerto para evitar el aterrizaje de un avión de #Iberia. La sospecha es que venía con pasajeros, cuando el Gobierno ha dicho que los vuelos venían vacíos. pic.twitter.com/D1IMZ9PnZX— CrudaRealidad (@CrudaRealidadEc) March 18, 2020
Ms Viteri later defended the decision to block off the airport in a Facebook video posted on March 18, before revealing the following day that she herself had tested positive for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Ecuador's Ministry of Transport and Public Works seemed at odds with Ms Viteri, releasing a statement of disapproval over the actions of the mayor. The department also confirmed that the plane - which was carrying only crew - was unable to pick up the travellers waiting to fly back to Spain at Guayaquil's airport, but eventually landed at an airport in Ecuador's capital of Quito, where it picked up 170 passengers for a return flight.
The European Union subsequently requested that Ecuador "provide guarantees of security in the use of the airports of Quito and Guayaquil for the arrival of empty flights … and the exit of European citizens," according to Reuters.
Ecuador had banned incoming passenger flights as earlier this week, in response to a growing number of positive coronavirus cases in the country. The country has 981 confirmed cases of the virus as of today.
This article originally appeared on Fox News and was reproduced with permission
Originally published as City's desperate move to stop arriving plane