Controllers defend air flow action

Guild of Antigua & Barbuda Air Traffic Controllers
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Controllers defend air flow action

Unread post by bimjim » Mon Jan 19, 2009 ... 9&ac=Local

Controllers defend air flow action
Monday January 19 2009

Antigua’s air traffic controllers were yesterday criticised for imposing flow control at the region’s busiest time of the year.

Flow control was implemented at VC Bird International Airport on 19 Dec., and continued through the first week in January which resulted in flight delays throughout the region.

Consequently Prime Minister of St. Lucia Stephenson King called for alterations to aviation policy in the Eastern Caribbean.

According to Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), King said he would raise the matter later this week at a meeting of Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) government heads in St. Kitts.

King plans to urge leaders to address regional transportation in general to counteract the impact of limitations in air and sea travel, vital as they are to the region’s tourism trade.

“If we are to build on our tourism sector, not only must we have direct air travel from the United States, the UK and Canada into and out of countries but also we must have the ability to move people from countries such as Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia into the other islands.

“However, the only way that we can succeed is through a clear and distinct policy in aviation. We must be able to put the necessary regulatory mechanisms in place to deal with aviation in the region,” King reportedly said.

Wesley Joseph, chairman of the Guild of Antigua & Barbuda Air Traffic Control Officers (GABATCO) told the Antigua Sun that it is unfortunate that negotiations with the government over contracts were on-going at the time that flow control was implemented.

Contrary to some reports, he said the action was in no way a form of industrial action.

“St. Maarten, Guadeloupe, Trinidad and San Juan all imposed flow control at the time, so it was basically the major airports in the Caribbean involved.” Joseph said.

He pointed out that since the air traffic controllers in Antigua operate without the assistance of radar facilities and those countries in the region that have radar systems still opted to implement flow control, it was therefore more prudent for Antigua to implement it.

“The airlines were not too happy. Many of the airlines have reported financial losses. WinAir and LIAT and other airlines have experienced delays, which are financial losses but from an air traffic standpoint, safety was and is paramount.” Joseph said.

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