Sunday 28 February 2010

Earthquake update

Following on from my last post, RTP have issued a press release which can be found here on their website.

They believe the airport may be open sooner that the 72 hours quoted by the press, and are travelling out to Chile today, as they intend to stage the race and also raise funds for the earthquake victims.

RTP urge people to allow plenty of time for cancellation and delays. This of course poses a problem as airlines right now don't even know if they can fly into Santiago, so they are unlikely to tender requests to fly out any earlier. I've checked with my booking agent and there is no availability on flights into Santiago on either of the two previous days, unless you fly business class (huge price tag), so I can't do anything to try and allow more time.

My flights to Chile may well go ahead, but as I only arrive on Friday, if there are any cancellations or delays to any flights there is no contingency available. If I got to Santiago but my onward flight to Calama was cancelled then I would have little to no chance of getting to San Pedro. A ride by car is getting on for 1000 miles, which isn't really feasible in a day, on those roads, with one person driving. The Salta option, flying into Argentina, and getting the bus may be no easier as a seperate earthquake, set off by the Chile quake hit Salta Province, so I have no idea what road damage may be there. Also, I would have to leave on Tuesday in order to get to Salta in time for the Thursday bus (it only runs Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7am). All in all, I don't think that option is workable for me. I've got little option other than to go with the original travel plans and hope for the best. I've just got visions of my Calama flight being fully occupied by passengers delayed from previous flights. I think LAN airlines only fly a couple of planes a day to Calama, which is tiny airport. A 3-day backlog wouldn't clear overnight. I hope all the competitors stuck in various airports around the world right now are being looked after by the airlines, and they can find a route to San Pedro too.

Although the death toll in Chile is sadly rising above 700, it's already clear that despite the stronger quake, the devastation is nothing like the scale seen in Haiti. Chile is a modern, developed nation, that has a history of earthquakes so the infrastructure is better prepared to cope than most.

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