The Guyana government is for now treating the ongoing controversy between the management of Ogle Airport Inc (OAI) and several private aviation operators as a “private matter” but there would be room for the Competition Commission to address some of their concerns.
“That is still a private matter but the regulatory arrangements will always be government’s responsibility”, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon told Demerara Waves Online News on Sunday.
He said any issues affecting the travelling public would be handled by the regulatory agency. I think there have been some concerns that have been expressed to government about safety and security, the role of the Civil Aviation Authority in the whole operation of the Ogle Airport, those are issues which the government will look at but by and large Ogle Airport Inc. is a private operation and really we are not going to put our hands into it at this point in time,” he said.
OAI and nine domestic airlines are at odds over the alleged anti-competitive practices by the Board of Directors that the small aviation operators say is dominated by the Correias and their allies. The Correias also play leading roles in Trans Guyana Airways and Caribbean Aviation Maintenance Systems (CAMS), which repairs and services aircraft and supplies aviation fuel.”
Harmon acknowledging learning through the media about anti-competitive behaviours and said eventually they would be dealt with. “I believe in the fullness of time those issues will be addressed…The Competitive Committee- those issues will have to come to it. I think about now we are looking at restructuring the Board that will deal with those issues and once the Board is constructed and those issues come to it we will allow it to dealt with in that way,” said the Minister of State.
Earlier this month, the nine operators formed the National Air Transport Association (NATA) to address their concerns with management, government and the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
OAI’s Board Chairman, Michael Correia has rejected claims of anti-competitive behaviour by OAI and has instead assured that the directors are professionals who are acting in the best interest of the company and the aviation sector in accordance with local and international regulations.
NATA’s formation has emerged out of several concerns that its members have said OAI has failed to address and worsened by a draft aviation operator’s agreement that provides for OAI to have a lien on aircraft and other properties in case they fail to pay debts within 14 days notice.
Correia and OAI’s Chief Executive Officer, Anthony Mekdeci have said that the draft agreement is modelled off the London City Airport agreement, and would in the end have to receive the GCAA’s blessings.
Those OAI officials at the same time have at the same time floated the idea of government enacting legislation governing private airports.
NATA representatives last week met with several government officials including Junior Public Infrastructure Minister, Annette Ferguson who is responsible for the aviation sector.
This article was first published on Demerara Waves