Air traffic controllers complain of control tower problems

-await regional audit

Several senior Air Traffic Control (ATC) staff at the Timehri Air Traffic Control Tower are expressing deep concern over myriad issues plaguing the tower, including severe management problems and the non-appointment of the newest batch of controllers to the roster.

Persons at the tower are reporting that the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority’s (GCAA) operations, in-cluding the pivotal ATC operations at Timehri and Ogle, are expected to be audited by the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System (CASSOS), the regional aviation regulator.

Some of the staff believe the audit will highlight management deficiencies affecting the tower, and that efforts are being taken to delay the audit so as to cover any shortcomings at the tower, as well as the senior officials who oversee its operations.

Stabroek News attempted to contact GCAA Head Zulficar Mohammed at least four times yesterday to no avail.

Recently, Mohammed revealed via a media release that eight new air traffic controllers had been certified and are working the aviation facilities of the Ogle International Airport and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).

Several senior staff members however, are reporting that these new staffers are working under the portfolios of Air Traf-fic Control Assistants (ATCAs) and not Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs). Additionally, Stabroek News understands, five months had passed between these new staffers completing the required training and being appointed ATCAs. This has resulted in them being “robbed” of their correct salaries as well as other benefits, the staffers said.

They said the new staff members should fall in the salary scale of Air Traffic Control Officer 1, and should be receiving a salary in excess of $140,000 per month. However, the new recruits are being paid in the vicinity of $80,000 per month. It was alleged too that there appears to be blatant cases of favouritism ongoing at the GCAA by management as regarding appointments.

One senior staff reported that the tower’s management has been working to appoint a particular controller to a senior position ahead of at least three other eligible persons, all of whom have been functioning in senior roles for several of years. Other senior staff members are critical of the efforts, although they are afraid of being victimised if they speak out publicly.

“One only come the other day and they moving her over others who there long before her,” one staffer stated. Senior staff members also pointed out that the incident, in which a young ATC walked out of the tower several months ago while a Caribbean Airlines flight was approaching the CJIA, is still unsolved and efforts may be underway to prevent two senior officials who should have been held accountable in that incident from being penalised.

Stabroek News understand that three persons, including a senior air traffic controller who was in charge of the shift on the night of the incident, have been suspended indefinitely as a result of the incident. Meanwhile, two senior officials, one of whom has overall responsibility for operations at the tower, reportedly remains unsanctioned.

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