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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Jamaican airports shut down, stranding travelers and snarling plans

By Derek M. Norman

All three of Jamaica’s international airports closed late Tuesday as Hurricane Beryl churned toward the island, leaving some travelers stranded and others scrambling to adjust their plans.

Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, Norman Manley International Airport in Port Royal (near the capital, Kingston) and Ian Fleming International Airport in Boscobel — which together serve approximately 1.7 million visitors each year — would remain closed at least through Wednesday, according to Jamaica’s tourism board.

“All necessary precautions are being taken to ensure a swift and safe resumption of operations once the hurricane has passed,” MBJ Airports, which operates Sangster International, the country’s largest and most popular hub for tourists, said in a statement.

Travelers staying on the island should remain in the safety of their accommodations or evacuation point, the tourism board said, adding that, if possible, they should register with their home country’s embassy to receive specific guidance and support.

For travelers whose plans had them arriving in Jamaica during the closures, some airlines are offering to rebook flights for a different date, free of charge.

American Airlines, for example, is working to reschedule flights to numerous places in the storm’s path, including several Caribbean islands, Belize and Mexican destinations like Tulum, Cancún, Cozumel and Mérida through July 5.

JetBlue Airways said it would waive change or cancellation fees, as well as the cost of fare differences, for customers scheduled to travel to affected Caribbean destinations between July 1 and July 5.

And Southwest Airlines is allowing customers with flights to Montego Bay between July 1 and July 4 to reschedule without any additional charges.

Other tourist destinations potentially in the hurricane’s path are also shutting down airports.

Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman and Charles Kirkconnell International Airport on Cayman Brac would both close Wednesday, according to the Cayman Islands Airports Authority.

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