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Haiti’s main airport re-opens nearly three months after gang violence forced it closed

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AP) – Haiti’s main international airport re-opened on Monday for the first time in nearly three months after relentless gang violence forced authorities to close it.

The re-opening of the Toussaint-Louverture airport in the capital of Port-au-Prince is expected to help ease a critical shortage of medications and other basic supplies. The country’s main seaport remains paralysed. Gangs control 80 per cent of the capital.

United States-based airlines are not expected to start using the airport until late May or early June. The first commercial passenger flight since March left for Miami nearly two hours behind schedule, with sweating passengers complaining about the lack of air conditioning until takeoff.

Although the flight was organised by local carrier Sunrise Airways, it contracted Florida-based charter airline World Atlantic, which distributed paper towels to drenched passengers.

Before Monday, the sole airport operating in Haiti was located in the north coastal city of Cap-Haitien. It was out of reach for many seeking to flee the country, with roads leading from Port-au-Prince controlled by gangs that have opened fire on cars and buses passing through.

Passengers wait to board a World Atlantic plane at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. PHOTO: AP
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