This story continues to unfold, only to fold itself back up into mess after mess. So, where are we now?
On Wednesday, May 5, The Iowa Standard obtained records from the Des Moines Airport that listed Flight WL317 as a Government ICE charter through World Atlantic Airlines. Nobody at World Atlantic Airlines has answered messages.
Included in the information contained on that record was a note saying ICE/Government flight – will have 5-7 armed federal agents.
ICE, however, continues to deny it had anything to do with the operation. ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said that it does not have contracts with either World Atlantic or Signature Flight Support.
We contacted the Long Beach Airport, but were told private air charter operations are contracted through Fixed Base Operators and aside from verifying that private charter operations comply with the noise ordinance, Long Beach Airport has “no authority to deny landing rights, monitor passenger manifests or otherwise interfere with charter operations.”
Kate Kuykendall, the public affairs officer for the Long Beach Airport, also said no officials from the airport confirmed anything about the flight. Long Beach Local News, however, said an airfield operations area worker confirmed the information with them — that ICE agents transported the children by charter bus to a plane on the tarmac in Long Beach.
We talked with the Signature location in Des Moines and were told that all they can say is to contact World Atlantic Airlines for information regarding the flight.
World Atlantic Airlines has not responded to messages we began leaving with them on Sunday.
However, a source on the ground in Des Moines at the airport on April 22 said 13 kids deplaned and zero individuals boarded the plane that evening.
This story is fluid and is developing. In addition to providing the news, I’m also trying to provide our readers with a first-hand account of exactly what it’s like trying to nail down a story like this. I hope you’re having as much fun as I am not. That is sarcasm…sort of.