MONTPELLIER (awp/afp) – Montpellier airport has been closed for an indefinite period, a cargo plane having strayed from the runway during the night during its landing without causing injuries, the prefecture announced on Saturday. from Hérault.
“As a security measure and while waiting for a specialized company to move the aircraft, commercial and freight flights” can no longer land in Montpellier for an indefinite period, the prefecture said in a press release.
“The three people present in the device are unharmed. They were able to be extricated and brought to safety thanks to the rapid intervention of the emergency services,” the same source said.
It was 2:50 a.m. when an Aéropostale plane, a Boeing 737 loaded with freight, missed its landing at Montpellier airport and ended its journey in the Mauguio pond located at the end of the runway. The nose of the aircraft is currently submerged.
“As long as this aircraft is on the runway, and the investigation is not completed, we will not reopen the airport. After the removal of the aircraft, the runway will also be carefully diagnosed”, indicated to AFP airport services.
42 aircraft movements were planned for this Saturday, i.e. 21 commercial flights. On average, this airport located on the coast sees through up to 197,000 passengers per month in the height of the summer season.
The cancellations of flights or their movements to the nearest airports are the responsibility of the airlines, said Montpellier airport without further details on the decisions taken.
Sixty firefighters from the Hérault departmental fire and rescue service, including water rescue specialists, were dispatched to the scene with a team from SAMU, the air transport gendarmerie brigade and teams from the airport.
An investigation has been entrusted to the BEA, Bureau of Investigation and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety, which will have to work to understand the causes of this accident which occurred on this plane chartered by La Poste. Every night, this flight landed at 2:45 a.m., carrying mail.
“Four BEA investigators have been dispatched to the scene” with “the opening of a security investigation”, tweeted the BEA on Saturday, specifying that the device was operated by the company “West Atlantic”.
Located on the coast, Montpellier airport is not known for its dangerousness and this accident is very exceptional.