On Thursday, September 22, 2022, a Fly Montserrat flight enroute from Montserrat to Antigua developed engine trouble. Passengers onboard witnessed a significant oil leak accompanied by what appeared to be smoke coming from the engine malfunction, only seven minutes into the flight.
The aircraft continued onwards towards Antigua. The skill of Captain Jamilla Jeffrey saw to it that the aircraft landed safely in Antigua, where emergency crews attended to the aircraft and the souls that were onboard. Once again, as we had done on the day of this very unfortunate development, MNI Alive congratulates Captain Jeffrey in averting a disaster on that day.
Watch a video, as shared with MNI, of a very clear capture from another angle of what one passenger who was onboard, Ms Loretta Daly, witnessed. Click here to VIEW VIDEO
As we can see, the engine spewing oil and the smoke coming from it, would have been enough to cause fear and trepidation even amongst the most seasoned of traveller. Bear in mind, that the passengers onboard were travelling on a tiny aircraft, whilst seeing before their eyes this potentially life-threatening engine failure. They had no choice but to place their trust in the pilot and to God.
The purpose of this piece today is to highlight the issues of mental health, well-being and most importantly respect; common human decency and courtesy that impacts passengers who experience traumatic aircraft incidents such as what Loretta Daly and her fellow passengers had to endure on that Fly Montserrat flight that day.
The Management of Fly Montserrat, specifically in the person of its public face, Captain Nigel Harris, continue to pour scorn on the genuine concerns of the travelling public over both the safety of his aircrafts and also his blatant showing of disregard and disrespect towards those passengers who have had horrible experiences whilst travelling via his airline, Fly Montserrat.
According to MNI’s conversations with Loretta, a full seven days had passed since the incident occurred and much to her dismay, there was an alarming lack of communication from Nigel Harris, or any representative from Fly Montserrat.
As Loretta herself described, it was a disrespectful lack of “showing care, concern, or inquisition.”
In further speaking to Loretta, we further inquired of her as to what she would you have hoped to see from Fly Montserrat's management and also from the government officials responsible for air safety on Montserrat, following on from this incident?
She responded, “I was hoping to hear either from Fly Montserrat or the Government Officials an apology as to incident and also to call the 6 passengers and ask how we are feeling.”
Due to this lack of care or concern for the passengers on that flight shown by Fly Montserrat’s management, Loretta took to sending a letter to Fly Montserrat’s CEO, Nigel Harris, on Monday evening, October 3, 2022. In that letter, she laid out her thoughts to Mr Harris that she considered it “outrageous and disrespectful that the passengers who almost lost their lives on the flight that day have had no contact from him or his company regarding this incident.”
Loretta further stated in that letter: “The experience of that day has left me anxious, unable to sleep and with flashbacks of the fire and oil spilling from the plane. I continue to have the disturbing feeling of the engine being cut off and the plane floating as if standing still in the air. I have not been able to shake the feelings of helplessness from that morning, feelings of not making it to see my family again. I cannot find words that can express to you the fear that was in me and the other passengers on the flight while we were in the air praying to God that we made it safely to the ground."
She further outlined to Nigel in that letter: “my inability to sleep, flashbacks and the constant anxiety I am experiencing since that flight has caused me to seek professional help to deal with and hopefully overcome these traumatic stressors.”
Read below Captain Nigel Harris’ response:
It is of course known that aircrafts undergo issues from time to time. Hence why they undergo rigorous safety checks to ensure their airworthiness.
However, the clear evidence of Nigel’s contempt for any form of accountability and responsibility to the passengers onboard for what happened with that engine failure, is his concluding statement; “We thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention, and hope that you will be able to put this event behind you.”
At this point, one wonders if Nigel Harris understands that Ms Daly and perhaps too, other passengers, are dealing with serious concerns to do with their mental health and wellbeing, following on from the incident to do with his airline?
In addition, why has Fly Montserrat not come forward offering any form of assistance, compensation or gesture for those passengers that had to experience such a traumatic event?
We are now past the euphoria of Captain Jamilla Jeffrey’s great works to bring the aircraft safely to ground. It is now time to examine the continued lack of accountability by Nigel Harris; his airline and the Government of Montserrat for their blatant and disrespectful silence on these matters to do with Fly Montserrat.
The Office of the Governor who is in charge of air safety seems to be continuing the pattern of patting Fly Montserrat on the back once Air Safety Support International (ASSI) comes in and says Fly Montserrat is ok to fly. They too must be brought under the microscope of scrutiny.
With Ms Daly and other passengers having to deal with their mental health and wellbeing issues following on from the mid-air engine failure, why are they now being saddled with having to pay bills for therapy sessions and other such actions they are taking to ensure they can get past the anxiety and fear they are still dealing with?
Take a listen below to Loretta speaking with ZJB Radio about the engine failure incident. More importantly, listen to Nigel Harris’ responses to ZJB’s Herman Sergeant at the end of the conversation. The tones of indifference and intolerance towards accountability are very clear in the way he expresses himself whilst being questioned over the engine failure and his airline's safety record:
The travelling public use Fly Montserrat’s services with fear for their safety each time they step on these aircrafts. Nigel Harris promised Twin Otter aircrafts when he received national funding to set up his airline. Many years have passed and there are no twin otters in service baring the insignia of Fly Montserrat. Where are they? Did he mislead the government of the day to receive national funding?
If it is a case that Fly Montserrat intends to only ever operate these islander type aircrafts, then what is the age of these aircrafts they are using to service Montserrat?
Are they that old that it is now time to consider leasing or purchasing more up-to-date islander aircrafts?
The status of the age of these aircrafts needs to be known and this is where the Government of Montserrat; The Governor’s Office and those in charge of air safety have been continually failing the people of Montserrat.
It is time to hold Fly Montserrat to account. No excuses.
Ms Loretta Daly and her fellow passengers are left to deal with their mental health and wellbeing issues, whilst Nigel Harris tells them he hopes they can get past the engine failure incident soon.
Beyond disrespect, what Nigel Harris has displayed is basic indecency towards a genuine expression of human suffering and fear. This is unacceptable.