By Makeda Mikael
The Ministry of Tourism has been on a roll, with an effective Chair & Tourism Board, CEO and Minister, the island should be grateful for the efficient and stable growth of the tourism market both in stayover tourists and cruise ship day visitors.
The time is long past for the Ministry of Aviation to occupy its own Up-market Offices with highly trained technicians, whose growth is in keeping with aviation/technology of the times. For the past years there has been no Aviation Ministry premises, and pushed into an APUA workplace is not the atmosphere for aviation, which demands a more sophisticated vista of its own.
It is unlikely that the Ministry of Aviation staff would have to work in a building which use has been restricted because of mold. For several weeks the staff have been inhaling mold half day, as the office has failed to protect its staff by fixing the problem.
The administrative responsibility seems to have gotten a bit moldy itself, in that it no longer understand its role in aviation where it is advised by its technical teams, and it’s oversight of the Airport is an integral part of its portfolio.
Had the Aviation Ministry been housed in offices with its Minister, the Permanent Secretary, the Coordinator and the Aviation Advisor would all have been able to offer their expertise and advice to the Minister while having his ear.
The importance of Aviation to both Tourism and the entire economy requires a lot more attention than it is getting, split up as it is in the dingy moldy APUA offices, separated from its Minister and his energetic Tourism officials and technicians, and completely ignored by the Airport Administration.
Had there been any coordination in that Ministry, it is unlikely that the Minister of Aviation would have taken off to India, begging them for flights, while Air Peace was in Antigua negotiating their Nigeria-Antigua route.
And, the Permanent Secretary on vacation at the same time as the Minister suggests that neither of them is necessary. Meanwhile the sole airport operates on its own with neither head involved.
The time is now for the Ministry of Aviation to establish the infrastructure necessary to fulfill Antigua’s membership in the International Civil Aviation Organization, which requires its Rules & Regulations to be known and followed.
To do this the Ministry will need more trained personnel to ensure regulatory oversight of the airport’s operations especially Safety & Security compliance regarding access.
In the absence of the perquisite trained IATA and ICAO certified personnel, the Ministry of Aviation cannot be considered compliant.
Safety & Security are the most important aspect of Aviation, and it goes far beyond the mundane stop & question issues. Every aspect of operating an airport is delineated by a complex and highly regulatory process, laid out in numbered Annexes, which are expected to ingested into the DNA of all aviators, in the air and on the ground.
As host country to the OECS Regulatory oversight, Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA), Antigua should be their model Airport and Aviation certification, with the experts on island just down the road.
However the separation oF powers seem to have included regional agencies with the church and others. Sharing of information for growth and development does not seem to be part of their portfolio, and they do little to build their host countries.
In Aviation there is an easy way to move forward, it is up!
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