Home The Big Stories Airport CEO clears the air on fumigation frustration

Airport CEO clears the air on fumigation frustration

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While the CEO of the Antigua & Barbuda Airport Authority (ABAA) has refused to comment on a call for him to be fired, he has sought to clear the air on Thursday’s shutdown of the airport due to a fumigation exercise.
The Minister of Tourism, Asot Michael had called for the ABBA’s CEO, Stanley Smith, to be fired hours after the effects of the procedure, at the old V C Bird International Airport terminal, caused the evacuation of the Control Tower, which led to delays to a number of inbound and outbound flights.
The shutdown occurred just after midday Thursday.
Smith told OBSERVER media that the fumes emanated from a spill of the chemical used to fog for mosquito control about 90 feet away from the elevator shaft through which the gas ascended to the cab of the tower.
He said about two weeks ago, there was a request for the building to be fumigated against a mosquito infestation, which was plaguing those who operate in the old terminal.
“We don’t do fumigations inside of buildings, any fumigation that is actually done is actually done outside the building,” Smith said.
He said the attempt to fumigate the building with the fogging machine was done without his knowledge.
The CEO said that when he was made aware of the situation, he not only requested maintenance personnel to investigate the issue, but he went to the Control Tower as well.
He explained that when he arrived there was still “some smell” though not “heavy”, however, he instructed the maintenance personnel to open all the doors on the lower level as well as a hatch to expel the polluted air.
The airport operations resumed shortly after 3 pm, but Smith said in his estimation the wait could have been cut down by an hour with “more cooperation from other entities”.
He said that “simple issues” of maintenance would not have been reported to him but it would have been a decision made “at a lower level”.
He said that he is waiting for the conclusion of a report to determine who gave the instructions to fumigate the building.
At least a dozen flights were affected by the airport closure, with the Minister of Tourism tagging the losses in the hundreds of thousands.
Smith said that as the CEO for the airport he does not “void” himself from the issue.
When OBSERVER media asked him about the Minister Michael’s call for him to be sacked, the CEO said, “I think the Tourism Minister has all right to his opinion. My opinion may differ from his but he has his own opinion from where he sits.”
He said his responsibility is to “restore normality” when incidents happen.
Meantime, the Chairman of the ABAA, Rolston “Polly” Potter has also declined to reply directly to Minister Michael.
“I would not wish to comment on a minister’s comment,” he said.
Potter said there would have been a Board meeting on Friday afternoon where the CEO would have given a report.
He said the Cabinet is ultimately responsible for firing Smith under the Statutory Corporations General Provisions Act of 2016, which strips boards of the power to hire and fire senior management.

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