Air Traffic Controllers cry out for relief

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The Guild of Antigua and Barbuda Air Traffic Controllers (GABATCO) wants the government to address numerous “vexing” issues that continue to plague its ability to operate efficiently.
In delivering his address to the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union and Antigua and Barbuda Trade Union Congress, Wesley Joseph, an executive of GABATCO, told the crowd that  he was hired as part of the new radar implementation plan envisioned for V. C. Bird and to date there is none in place.
“A quarter-century later, I stand before you to report that there is still no radar operation at V. C. Bird International Airport. The radar antenna stands dysfunctional like a white elephant on top of the hill overlooking New Winthorpes Village, whistling in the wind,” Joseph said.
In reiterating earlier calls for attention, Joseph added that the radio equipment he met at the international airport when he started his career 25 years ago is the same, and is continuously plagued by daily malfunctioning.
Joseph also lamented several issues noting that the promised tower cab is yet to arrive on the island to be installed.
The air traffic controller (ATC) also acknowledged the positive changes to include the newly constructed state-of-the-art airport terminal that has become the envy of many Caribbean countries.
“Our working conditions remain poor and my fellow controllers are increasingly disgruntled and frustrated,” he said. “What about ATC, the nerve centre of all major airport operation. If there is no ATC, there is no airport in operation no matter how modern an airport.”
Joseph reminded the workforce gathered for the Labour Day rally speeches that the ATCs are left abandoned and neglected, like the old V. C. Bird terminal, from which they are still required to work.
“We still have to perform our duties and with utmost professionalism with malfunctioning equipment. We are ever so cognisant of the huge responsibilities that are on our shoulders daily, we simply ask for the necessary tools and the ideal working conditions to provide the essential service,” he said.
“A mistake in ATC cannot be remedied by running a red line through it and putting your initials, a mistake can be catastrophic, and mistakes are fatal.”
He noted that ATCs have been made to wait six months to receive payment for overtime hours worked.

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