Airport CEO ‘confused’ by action taken by local businesswoman

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The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority (ABAA) said she is somewhat confused by the actions taken by businesswoman, Makeda Mikael yesterday morning.

Euletta Francis’ comment followed the action taken by Mikael to block an entry point through her property located at the VC Bird International Airport, which has been used by billionaire businessman Calvin Ayre to access a private runway from Gate 7.

Tensions were high Friday morning at the property which is adjacent to Shell Beach in Coolidge.

 When OBSERVER media arrived on the scene, Mikael could be seen taking photos and video recordings of vehicles accessing the runway through her land.

Members of the ABAA and the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda (RPFAB) were also present.

While speaking with this newsroom, Mikael revealed that she might have to take legal action against Ayre for the “unlawful” use of her property, and added that although she is open for dialogue with the ABAA, she will not entertain Ayre or anyone from his group because “she has asked them previously to make arrangements to go through their land instead of coming through mine”.

The land was previously owned by R Allen Stanford and according to reports, during the time of his ownership an agreement was in place as a checkpoint for the airport lies within the land space, but since the recent selling and acquisition of the lands by Ayre and Mikael, a number of issues and incidents have occurred.

“Calvin Ayre bought plot 100 and I own the other area. He made a deal with the government which allows them to use a portion of their land to access people to the ramp but in order for them to do that they have to come over to my land.

“Neither the airport or Calvin Ayre has made any arrangement with me, but they have been accessing the land and recently there was a situation where I considered what they did to be a violation. I have asked the airport to look into it, to investigate it and advise me, but nobody has responded and I do not think it is right for them to be crossing my land, especially as I know a violation took place here before,” Mikael said.

But, according to the Airport CEO, she doesn’t understand what the latest issue is as Mikael has received a number of correspondence from the ABAA explaining that while she may want the access point removed, there is much work and time that would be needed for that to occur.

With regards to her singling out Ayre himself, Francis questioned Mikael’s motives as, according to her, Ayre is not the only party that uses the path to gain access.

She further revealed that Mikael in fact has no jurisdiction to deny him access and is instead creating bigger problems for the airport altogether.

“Why she singled out Calvin Ayre saying she doesn’t want him? But while she may say that, the issue is that she cannot block [him] because any blockage of the area, you are blocking anyone who may need to exit and enter there by creating a safety issue from an emergency standpoint and an operational issue,” Francis said.

“If you have people going in and out to do their work by servicing jets that are in that area, it is a problem. It is a security concern, a safety concern and an operational concern.”

   Although matters were temporarily resolved yesterday after much discussion with both Mikael and representatives from the ABAA, a more permanent solution may be arrived at in the near future as both parties are presently in court over a similar matter.

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