Two months ago a discussion was started on the Cayo Largo Forum. For those that are not familiar with it, it is in French, but is easily translated. It is an active group and a great source of information about Cayo Largo and Cuba in general. The topic related to an apparent theft that occurred at the Cayo Largo airport. This has been one of the most active discussions that I’ve seen on any site, with 110 comments and over 4,000 people reading.
As a frequent visitor and strong supporter of Cayo Largo, I was concerned not only about what might be happening, but also the effect the negative news might have on the hotels. We have many close friends that work at the Pelicano.
During our visit in December I spoke to one of the staff at the hotel. He arranged a meeting with the Director of the Airport (Rafael ??). I told him about the discussion and asked him to describe the systems that were in place at the airport.
He began by providing some numbers. There were 31,000 people through the airport in 2011. Up to Oct, 2012 that number was 26,000. In 2011 that amounted to 7,000 operations. This number represents the number of arrivals and departures of every size of aircraft. The airport employs 51 people, which he describes as his “family”.
In 2008-9 the airport completed a major upgrade at a cost of $232,000. Included in the upgrade was the installation of video monitoring equipment that has been placed in all key areas, including the baggage areas. Theoretically our luggage is fully monitored between the time we drop it off and it is loaded onto the plane.
The system keeps a record of each video so it is possible to investigate any occurrence.
In order to do an investigation, the airport needs information. Flight number, carrier name, time of check in and departure and of course a physical description of the luggage. The actual number of reported incidents was very low. In one case they were asked to investigate a theft but were given the wrong flight number and flight time. In an effort to complete the investigation, several emails were sent to the person, with no response.
I’m not suggesting that theft could not occur in Cayo Largo, or anywhere else for that matter. Even with the airport doing everything they can, it is still up to us to use common sense and simple precautions such as keeping valuables in our carryon, or at home.
Rafael made it very clear that his “family” takes pride in their work and their airport. If you have a problem contact your carrier and help them find and solve the problem.