Even as investors continue to show an “aggressive interest” in positioning the Ogle International Airport to accelerate the growth of the country’s aviation sector, the facility, which is being operated by the company Ogle Airport Inc under lease from the Government of Guyana, has become afflicted by a “seriously dysfunctional” management regime which, if not corrected “will compromise all of the hard work that has been done over the years to build Ogle,” Chief Executive Officer of Roraima Airways Captain Gerry Gouveia has said.
On Monday, Roraima held a commissioning ceremony for its British-manufactured 18-seater Trislander aircraft, the acquisition of which, coupled with the creation of hangar facilities, amounts to a Roraima Airways investment of US$2.5 million. Speaking to Stabroek Business afterwards, Gouveia said he had grown “decidedly uncomfortable” with the environment at Ogle.”
Gouveia, who is also an executive member of the National Air Transport Association (NATA) a body created late last year comprising nine of the ten entities operating out of Ogle, told this newspaper that he believes a point has now been reached where there needed to be discussions between “all of the operators at Ogle and government in order to determine whether the spirit and intent of the lease under which Ogle is managed is being embraced by the governing body, Ogle Airport Inc.”
The call for what Gouveia termed “an enquiry into the operations at Ogle comes in the wake of what this newspaper understands to have been a decision by the Government of Guyana to rename Ogle the Eugene F Correia Airport, after the great uncle of Trans Guyana Airways Chief Executive Officer Michael Correia.
Correia is also Chairman of the Board of Ogle Airport Inc.
Gouveia said that the concern of the nine other operators at Ogle is that “to attach the name Correia to the country’s second international airport would, in effect, provide inappropriate branding for a private company.”
Such a move, Gouveia said will strengthen the hand of the Correia Group in circumstances where the other independent companies are already denied access to influence at the level of the board.
“Naming an international airport is significantly different from naming a local airport. The former has both national and international implications. That name goes into both the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and International Air Transport Association (ICAO) global networks. It goes into every international air traffic control and reservation system.
In fact, NATA is of the view that there may be a case for such a move to be the responsibility of Parliament,” Gouveia said, adding that it would be naïve to suggest that attaching the name to the airport would not hand the Correia-owned aviation facilities, including Trans Guyana Airways an overwhelmingly significant branding advantage.”
And according to Gouveia, the control of Ogle by the CEO of Trans Guyana Airways manifests itself in control of the local Aircraft Owners Association (AOA).
“Mr Correia has been President of the AOA for 20 years,” Gouveia said. “That is a record. Every other head of every private sector organization in Guyana has a term limit.”
Turning his attention to the overall development of the airport, Gouveia said there was concern over congestion at the facility since both domestic and international carriers currently use the same operating space. “One would think that what the Ogle Airport Inc would be concerned over at this time would be the need to move ahead with the international terminal to ease the congestion,” Gouveia said.
Gouveia told Stabroek Business that numbered amongst the concerns of NATA members was that over time some of the original investors in the venture including Air Services Ltd (ASL) and Roraima Airways had been removed from the Board of Directors and replaced by entities close to the Correia Group. He said that while ASL has since been restored to the Board there was still no place there for Roraima.
“NATA’s insistence on the wisdom of setting aside the renaming of the airport at this time and instead focusing on deliberations that restore a sense balance and fairness in the management of the Ogle Airport is informed by its concern for the longer-term stability of the facility and by extension, the aviation sector,” Gouveia added.