By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Chairman of the Board of the Ogle Airport Inc (OAI), Michael Correia Jnr has rubbished claims made by nine Ogle Airport operators that the entity is being “Correia controlled” and that the environment is anti – competitive and oppressive.
The nine operators – Air Services Limited (ASL), Roraima Airways, Hinterland Aviation, Oxford Aviation, Phoenix Airways, Domestic Airways, Jags Aviation, Wings Aviation, Hopkinson Mining Aviation – recently formed the National Air Transport Association (NATA), headed by Annette Arjoon – Martins of ASL and Gerry Gouveia as Vice President.
The operators at a recent press conference claimed that OAI proposed a policy to seize their assets if they default on payments; the operators are also rejecting a suggestion by President David Granger to rename the airport to ‘Eugene F. Correia International Airport.’
Correia, during a press conference at the Ogle Airport on Friday, November 13, said that he met with six of the small operators, which include JAGS Aviation, Fenix Airways, Domestic Airways, Oxford Aviation, Hinterland Aviation and Hopkinson Mining.
He told reporters that the major issue for these operators is the insecurity they feel about being dependent on operators who own the six approved Domestic Cargo Terminal.
As such, he has since decided to intervene and will propose to the Board of Directors that the Airport construct an independent cargo terminal and rent space to small operators.
The Chairman also plans to propose that the Airport consider a loan agreement that makes it easier for small operators who are desirous of owning their hangar.
“It is clear from my discussion with the small Operators, who I believe are being misled, that this is more the Agenda of one or two of the large Operators,” Correia said.
He further debunked allegations made by Gouveia and Annette Arjoon – Martins that one airline is controlling the other competitors.
“If this is what Mr Gouveia and Ms Arjoon-Martins are saying to the President [David Granger], then they have set out to mislead the government at the highest possible level. You may rest assured that I will ensure that the government is properly informed at every level,” the Chairman told the news conference.
He further noted that “Mr Gerry Gouveia, if nothing else, has proved himself a master of half-truths and deliberate deception.”
As it relates to the seizure of assets and the document that was presented to the Board of Directors of the airport, it was noted that the draft agreement was circulated to all Board members for review prior to it being presented at the Board meeting.
Chief Executive Officer of OAI, Anthony Mekdeci, explained that the Operators have to pay for the use and services provided by the airport and this payment is usually done after the fact.
However, he noted that some of the Operators do not pay OAI, resulting in the lost of millions.
“There are several instances where people have failed to pay the fees and the airport is owed a lot of money; so we have to find a mechanism in which to collect our fees,” the CEO said.
It was explained that the airport has not implemented the draft document of seizing the assets if fees are not paid as management still has to seek approval from the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
“Mr Gouveia instead, apparently with the full support of Ms Annette Arjoon-Martins whose company was represented at the Board meeting in the person of her brother, deliberately set out to misrepresent the process through which the draft agreement was prepared and presented to the Board for consideration…Mr Gouviea would have the country believe that Ogle Airport’s management attempted to force this agreement down the throats of the Operators when exactly the opposite occurred,” Correia stated.
Renaming the Airport
Gouveia had posited that President Granger’s suggestion to rename the airport would present disadvantages to other operators. He suggested that the President might not have taken into consideration those disadvantages when the idea was proposed.
But, Correia said that shortly after the President made the announcement, the Secretary of the OAI Board wrote to all stakeholders with “no objection” responses received, including Gouveia, “who called me personally to offer his support. When I put the matter to the Board, two members initially expressed reservation before the Board unanimously agreed to the proposed name change. The Board subsequently advised the President of its decision, after which we received a letter from Air Services Ltd with a reversal of their position.”
Correia said that he is disappointed that these issues were vented in the public domain before first being brought to his attention.