Plane robberies are not new

The outrage provoked by the 3:20am robbery of a plane from the La Isabela International Airport north of Santo Domingo, mainly used for domestic flights, has led reporters to discover that the theft is not a first.

As reported in El Caribe, another airplane was stolen from La Isabela in 2010. On 7 March that year, a Cessna Centurion 210L, series 21059588 disappeared amidst the same aura of mystery as the missing plane that was stored in the Grupo Puntacana hangar on Saturday.

As reported in Caribe, in 2010 the missing plane left for Port-au-Prince, Haiti and disappeared precisely when the authorities were offering a RD$10 million bounty for the capture of drug trafficker Jose David Figueroa Agosto and his lover Sobeida Felix Morel. At the time, it was also suspected that the son of another accused drug trafficker Arturo del Tiempo would leave the country illicitly by air.

The government security forces identified the pilots as Martin Antonio and Marcos Ferreira, but the president of the National Association Pilots Pedro Dominguez said they were not known here and could be from South America.

As reported in El Caribe, on 16 December 2008 the Dominican Civil Aviation Institute reported the disappearance of an airplane that took off from Cibao International Airport at 4pm with 11 people on board, bound for the Turks & Caicos. The pilot was businessman Adrian Beltre who changed the flight plan five minutes after takeoff and did not respond to calls from the control tower. The plane belonged to the Atlantic Aviation airline. The 10 passengers transported by Beltre were identified as: Alexandra Abreu, Maria Abreu, Rosa Tavarez, Carlos Garcia, Jose Luis Rodriguez, Maritza Hernandez, Casilda Rodriguez, Romulfo Herrera, Juana Ramirez and Omar Rojas.

After the scandal, then director of the Dominican Civil Aviation Institute, Jose Tomas Perez announced an investigation and the flight plan clerk for the day was suspended. Meanwhile, prosecutor general of the Republic has ordered an investigation into the robbery of Kingair 200 registration N871C.

Pedro Dominguez, a former president of the pilots’ association, said that the latest theft brings to the forefront a series of irregularities taking place at the AILI airport, including the constant theft of fuel from the planes parked at that terminal.