US Airways Flight 3203 was on descent to Charleston from Charlotte on Wednesday, when the pilot had to turn around and head back to Charlotte. The Charleston International Airport has been closing at midnight since June 9th and will continue to do so until August 9th. From midnight to 6am, the airport has been working on a $30million project to rebuild one of the runways that has had work done on it in the past 40 years.
Trouble started for flight 3203 before it took off, when bad weather came into Charlotte. The flight was scheduled to depart at 10:30 PM, but weather didn’t allow it to depart until 11:43 PM. Carlo Bertolini, spokesman for Republic Airways, the carrier that operated the flight for US Airways stated, “We thought we were going to be able to make it in time. In addition, we thought the tower might remain open a little later.” The pilot of the flight and dispatcher for the airline were in communication during the flight and it was thought the flight could make it before the tower shut down operations for the night.
Bertolini says their flight plan showed them making it to Charleston 17 minutes before the airport was closing. But how is that even possible, when the flight left Charlotte at the time where they were expecting to land in Charleston? This seems like there has to be some mis-communication going on between the airline, dispatcher, airports and spokespeople. The flight is about an hour and the plane left about 17 minutes before the airport was scheduled to close. It shouldn’t have been hard to see the flight was going to be late. Maybe the pilot was hoping they would make an exception since they were coming anyhow?
The pilot and the airline took a gamble and lost. Unfortunately 66 unhappy passengers were stuck on an hour flight to nowhere.