Aviators take swipe at government over neglect of sector’s needs

- nothing in the budget for infrastructure improvement

The Aircraft Owners Association of Guyana (AOAG) this week took an uncharacteristic swipe at the Government of Guyana for what it says is the “minimal recognition in this year’s budget” of “recommendations urged by the aviation industry” for the sector.

Simultaneously, the AOAG took a dig at the parliamentary opposition accusing it of cutting “the entire aviation budget, including the Cheddi Jagan International Airport expansion programme which is fully supported by both the aviation and tourism industries.”

The release said that as a result of government’s ignoring of key proposals for improving the capacity of the country’s aviation infrastructure, Guyana was “continuing to fall short of important requirements” of the international civil aviation industry.

Ogle International Airport
Ogle International Airport

The aviation sector’s most recent tilt at government comes in the wake of a buildup of many months including sector criticism of the readiness of the state-run aviation services to meet the needs of the sector.

Late last year and up to the earlier months of 2014, in the wake of various aircraft occurrences and accidents, sector officials have been calling on government to invest greater sums of money in aviation safety, runway rehabilitation and search and rescue capability. This week’s AOAG release again pointed to what it said were the operating limitations of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). A key concern of the sector is with the fact that the GCAA continues to have direct responsibility for accident investigation in the sector despite what an industry official told Stabroek Business is “the considerable likelihood of conflict of interest.”

This week’s AOAG release is calling for “independent aircraft accident investigation and prompt public reporting of the findings of these investigations and actions taken by the GCAA.”

Setting aside the movement of interior residents and cargo to interior communities, the aviation sector also has critical links to the tourism, mining and forestry sectors. The AOAG and the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) complement each other in lobbying government for improvements in the aviation sector.

The release echoed a call made recently by THAG for government to implement “industry recommendations for hinterland airstrip development to accommodate larger aircraft” and a “maintenance and rehabilitation programme.”

In the AOAG release and in the wake of the most recent aircraft accident earlier this year in which two lives were lost, the sector again calls for the creation of a national search and rescue regime “with appropriate protocols” under the Civil Defence Commission.

 

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