Staffing Crisis

The Civil Aviation Department is experiencing a staffing crisis, says President of the Barbados Air Traffic Control Association (BATCA), Rico Simpson.

He explained that 41 fully rated controllers and ten cadets are performing the job of 72 fully rated controllers.

Addressing BATCA’s 40th Anniversary Dinner and Awards Ceremony held at the Hilton Barbados Resort on Friday night, he expressed that this places tremendous strain on the Operations section as it is often very difficult to pull controllers off the shift for development or refresher training, which is a local and international requirement.

Simpson also pointed out that the entire Civil Aviation management team has been acting in positions for several years, with some even retired and never appointed to the post.

“This poses a greater challenge to the already strained system and is extremely frustrating especially since some of these management positions were advertised several months ago and no interviews for appointments have been conducted.”

The President is therefore calling on the Minister responsible for the Civil Service, Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Freundel Stuart to give this matter of appointments of staff in the Civil Aviation Department his very urgent attention.

“Simply because we cannot expect the rest of the world to take us seriously when it appears that we want to have a movie cast at the helm of a very important and critical department of government,” he stressed.

“Therefore, the association looks forward to the appointment of persons to posts starting with the position of Director of Civil Aviation and proceed down the ranks as per the agreement between the Barbados Workers’ Union and the Ministry. This would be the first step in bringing some semblance of order to a department where anyone can be moved at any time because no one is appointed anywhere,” it was further noted.

During the ceremony, Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy, assured the Association that government recognises the need for more staff. He noted that cadets are currently in training.

“If we continue to develop tourism on its present course with more hotel rooms, the cruise industry with more breathing space at the Bridgetown Port, more home porters – the airport is only going to get busier and busier, and therefore we will need to have more skilled air traffic controllers and we will need to have more numbers as well,” he pointed out.

Sealy also shared that the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) expansion plan includes the construction of a new tower.

“While we have done a lot with the existing tower, there is only so much we can do with that old plant. Therefore, in the context of the jet bridges, proposed expansion to the arrival area and improvements to the shopping experience... The question of a new control tower has been high priority in terms of the airport expansion project,” the Minister said. (TL)

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