New aviation body pushing for reforms at Ogle Airport Inc

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President of NATA, Annette Arjoon-Martins, and Chief Executive of Roraima Airways Inc, Captain Gerry Gouveia (standing) are flanked by NATA board members during their maiden press conference yesterday

SEVERAL local aviation operators have come together to form a new organisation to help regulate and implement reforms in operation of the Ogle Airport Inc.The decision was birthed after an allegedly draconian document was presented to the board of directors of the OAI for implementation of rigid rules which, they said, would affect the way operators manage their business. Calling themselves the National Air Transport Association (NATA), the body aims to ensure that all aviation officials are treated equally.

Nine of the 10 Guyanese aircraft operators have committed to forming the association. This was disclosed at a press conference held at the Chamber of Commerce Building on Waterloo Street yesterday. NATA will be headed by its president-elect, Annette Arjoon-Martins; and the members will include Chief Executive of Roraima Airways Inc., Captain Gerry Gouveia (Vice President); Chairman of Hinterland Aviation, Captain Emile Jahan; President of Oxford Aviation, Captain Raj Persaud; General Manager of Fenix Airways Inc and Founder of Flights of Hope Missionary Outreach, Captain Orlando Charles; Account Manager for Jags Aviation, Briony Tiwarie (Treasurer); Manager of Wings Aviation, Carl Bowen; Director of Operations of Hopkinson Mining Aviation, Seratu Phillips; and Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Major General Norman McLean.

All the members expressed positive remarks on the formation of the association, since, according to them, all stakeholders, whether large or small, will have a voice and level playing field in the decision-making process within the aviation industry.

Members collectively agreed that the NATA will pursue its objectives in the aviation sector in a transparent, accountable, equitable, and truly collaborative manner, and will be meeting with the government, private sector organisations and regulatory agencies soon.

The association will include pilots, engineers, senior traffic controllers, mechanics, flight operations personnel, ramp attendants, administrators, owners, operators, as well as aviation medical and legal personnel.

Sharing one of the issues that broke the proverbial camel’s back and prompted formation of NATA, Captain Gerry Gouveia said: “What I believe caused a trigger at Ogle was a document presented by the board of directors of the airport, which went to the board for approval, and this document was demanding that the operators at Ogle sign this document that hands over our planes, vehicles and boats, or whatever we own at Ogle, to the airport, so that if we owe landing fees, they could seize our planes and our buildings.”

He explained that the document even insisted that operators present a list of the customers using planes along with many other issues, which will be further dealt with after NATA officials decide on the way forward.

“It triggered an alarm bell in the operators that whoever has the audacity to craft a document like that, and to present it to operators to sign, was extremely disrespectful to the industry,” Gouveia stressed.

He disclosed that, over the last four days, problems facing operators for the past two years have been addressed by the management of Ogle as a result of the formation of NATA.

“We are pleased that we are already seeing results. Colleagues have been calling to meet with administrators for months and could not get an appointment, and within the last two days, there were three appointments, and things that could not have been solved in seven months are being solved today,” Gouveia declared.

RENAMING OF AIRPORT
NATA also disagrees with renaming of the Ogle Airport to the ‘Eugene Correia International Airport’, Gouveia said. “We, on the airfield on a daily basis, believe that President David Granger, when he made the suggestion, did not take into consideration naming the airport after one of the major competitors of the airport, because one of the problems facing the industry at Ogle is that you have a competitor regulating his competitors. And if it is taken further and renamed after the competitor, you compound what is already a difficult and oppressive situation,” Gouveia said.

Chairman of the Hinterland Aviation, Captain Emile Jahan, said that the newly-formed association will advocate for, and represent, all sub-sectors of the aviation industry with leadership composed of a team of experienced aviation professionals. He said NATA will ensure fair and equitable representation of all aviation professionals, aircraft owners, operators, and associates from the entire aviation sector.

“The leadership of this organisation will be democratic and observe term limits of two one-year terms for the presidency, in order to ensure that there is always equity and balance of governance. This leadership is based on the tenets of objectivity, application of due process, transparency and equality,” Jahan emphasised.

He added that discrimination of members or application of unfair preferential treatment on the representation of issues will not be condoned.

Jahan said that through its leadership, the association will support and encourage implementation of policies that would promote flight safety, responsible management of aviation facilities, and aircraft operations.
“The leadership would also pursue strategies that would enable sustainable growth in all of the subsectors within the aviation industry. NATA is committed to working closely with the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, Aircraft owners Association of Guyana, and all relevant government and private sector agencies for the advancement of the aviation sector,” Jahan explained.

Arjoon-Martins said although the Air Transport Industry in Guyana has made tremendous contributions, the industry has not benefited from broad-based representation of all aviation stakeholders.

“It is timely for such an association to be formed in order to correct this shortcoming. NATA is Guyana’s first broad-based aviation association which will amalgamate the views, interest and needs of all aviation stakeholders,” she said.

The NATA President noted that aviation professionals who are licensed by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority will be eligible for full membership. Unlicensed aviation professionals involved in the aviation sector are eligible for associate membership.

“Initially, nine of the 10 Guyanese aircraft operators have committed to the formation and development of this association,” she revealed.

Ogle Airport Inc. was formed by a local consortium of airline operators to manage, operate and develop Ogle Airport to ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) standards. They assumed management of the airport on December 01, 2001.