Monday, July 01, 2013

Government takes over air traffic control operations at Grand Bahama International Airport

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – The Government of The Bahamas on Monday took over full operations of the Airport Control Tower at Grand Bahama International Airport, which for almost half a century was operated by the Grand Bahama Port Authority.  Minister for Transport and Aviation, the Hon. Glenys Hanna Martin and Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville were both in attendance during Handover Ceremonies at the Grand Bahama International Airport on Monday morning.  Also in Grand Bahama were Captain Patrick Rolle and other senior officials from the Department of Civil Aviation, union officials and top executive from the Grand Bahama Airport and Harbour Company.   Officially handing over air traffic control tower services to The Bahamas Government was Mr. Godfrey Smith, CEO for the Grand Bahama Airport Company, Freeport Harbour Company and the Freeport Container Port. 

Addressing the gathering attending the handover ceremony the Minister for Transport described the occasion as being a momentous day, a day of  great significance.  “The Bahamas Government is today taking over a critical function in aviation services on the island of Grand Bahama which up to this date was privately managed.  “We are pleased to be adding to our ranks twenty-three experienced Bahamian professionals.  I think they were described as a formidable workforce. And of that twenty-three, there are nineteen Air Traffic Controllers, (non-radar) and four electronic technicians.  This new paradigm comes at a time when the aviation sector, under auspices of the Bahamas Government in our country is under transition, being re-shaped in a most significant way. This in fact, is the tip of our time of transition and radical expansion in the aviation sector,” she stated. 

The Aviation and Transport Minister noted that significantly, the take over of air traffic services in Grand Bahama creates uniformity and standardisation under one singular umbrella.  “We are pleased to have a more substantive stake in the this critical service on this island, and as indicated, the objective has been and continues to be on behalf of the Bahamas Government, and I believe on behalf of the Grand Bahama Airport Company to maintain the highest standards in air traffic services in this country,” the Minister voiced.  Continuing, she said that this time of expansion and expansion which we are undergoing as a country and as a people in the aviation sector includes the creation of Civil Aviation Authority which will take place by 2014, which will have a purely regulatory function for aviation services in our country and that work is aggressively underway. 

Continuing to stress the way forward as it relates to aviation, she said, “Airport operations will go to an Airport’s Authority. Civil Aviation will have no involvement in the operations of airports and this is being seen, as we speak, at the Marsh Harbour Airport which is going to the ownership of the Airport Authority, but that entity will contract out to a private entity, management of the Marsh Harbour Airport. This is an exercise currently underway.” 

On the subject of air accidents investigations the Aviation Minister informed that that will be separated for the first time from other functions of aviation in the country. She also informed of a new radar which will come into operations in April of 2014.  Also, she said that the takeover of air traffic services in Grand Bahama precedes the inauguration of air traffic services at Marsh Harbour Airport, which is currently underway.

“Additionally, we are in the process of hiring ten new trainees who are going to be recruited to build further capacity of our air traffic service capacity as a government, and we are pleased and excited and do so with open arms to incorporate our Grand Bahama professionals, who will now join this dynamic exercise that we are currently engaged in.  The aviation sector and airports in general are vitally crucial to the healthy and prosperous, social and economic growth and development of our beautiful archipelagic nation. It is a facilitator to our economic engines and facilitates the movement of people and goods domestically, internationally, it fuels our economy.  So, a standard of quality of air traffic services to this important critical component to our economic reality is absolutely vital.  We are confident that this transition, which we commemorate today is our fortieth  anniversary as a sovereign people will be seamless, and has been seamless, and it comes at a time when we are optimistic of the economic resurgence in our country and in particular Grand Bahama. It is coming, it is on the way,” she stated. 

Minister for Grand Bahama, Dr. Michael Darville said that the handing over of the Grand Bahama facility demonstrates once again of the Government’s  commitment to the island of Grand Bahama and its partnership with the Grand Bahama Port Authority and the Hutchinson Whampoa group of Companies.  He said that part of the governments overall plan with their partners is to increase the airlifts from Canada, the U.S. east coast, South America and Europe to this island and that they have been working diligently to ensure that goal is achieved this year.


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