Last Updated on Thursday, 3 November 2016, 17:45 by Denis Chabrol
The Guyana government on Thursday announced plans to overhaul the management and development of the civil aviation sector including measures to resolve long-running disagreements between the majority of domestic airlines at Eugene F. Correia ‘Ogle’ International Airport and the management of Ogle Airport Inc. (OAI).
Among the steps that Cabinet this week agreed to are a new legal mechanism to ensure fair competition and the establishment of a Review Panel.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said legislation and regulations would be enacted to provide for the Oversight of Airports “to supervise the commercial and economic practices at airports throughout Guyana.”
The National Air Transport Association (NATA) had complained bitterly to government about alleged anti-competitive practices by OAI, whose principals include a number of Correias, and the Correia Group of Companies which includes Trans Guyana Aviation and Caribbean Aviation Maintenance Services that also operates a fuel farm at the airport. The Correias have, however, consistently denied claims of anti-competitive and dominant behaviour by individual companies such as Air Services Limited (ASL) as well as NATA.
NATA Vice President, Gerry Gouveia welcomed government’s decision to establish the Oversight Committee although complaints had been lodged with the Competition Commission. “We expect this oversight body to regularise the unfair competition and dominance that prevail at the airport which is leading to a very unsafe environment between the operators at the airport. More importantly, we are expecting that the congestion issue wull be addressed urgently,” he said.
Also announced by the Minister of State is a decision to establish a Review Panel in keeping with the lease agreement between OAI and the Guyana government. OAI spokesman, Kit Nascimento is already on record as saying that the airport’s management has long called on government to set up the review panel to focus on obligations by the Guyana government and the company that runs the airport.
In mid-September, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson had said that a legal consultant had advised that government set up the Review Panel.
Government further announced plans to establish an Airport Authority to “create, upgrade and manage airport infrastructure throughout Guyana” and the development of a Civil Aviation Master Plan that that would ensure there are established standards , regulations and infrastructure including the construction of Ogle-modeled municipal airports across Guyana especially Regions 1, 7, 8 and 9. “The master plan would set out the types of services to be provided by airports by category. It will also include plans for the development of air navigation services and safety oversight aspects of the national civil aviation system,” he said.