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Feb 23, 2015

Civil Aviation Caught Sleeping

The unprecedented move by air traffic controllers, who reportedly called in sick, is being called an industrial action. Service was restored around midday, but by then the damage had been done. The events that unfolded at the P.G.I.A. prompted a press conference by the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation. In a prepared statement followed by fielding of questions, Director Lindsey Garbutt said they were not even aware that something was brewing among air traffic controllers. To put it mildly, the Ministry was clueless about what was going on. They were scurrying around to put the pieces together to get the flights up and running. Here is what they had to say to the media.


Lindsay Garbutt, Director, Civil Aviation

“The P.G.I.A. was scheduled to open for service at six a.m this morning. At 6:10 we were advised that all the air traffic controllers scheduled to work the six a.m to twelve p.m shift had reported in sick.  We have received no information, no specific information why the sick out happened.”



“Was there a labor dispute?”


Lindsay Garbutt

Lindsay Garbutt

“No, we have not received anything. We have about four or five people who failed to show up and our understanding is that the people who work on the afternoon shift have also called in sick.”



“So, you’re officially classifying it as a sick out?”


Lindsay Garbutt

“I am classifying it as they having called in sick.”



“Will there be any repercussions or penalties for these individuals?”


Lindsay Garbutt

“It’s much too early to tell. Our priority right now is to get the planes that need to come on the ground. About a year and a half ago, we trained three people from Central America as a part of our process as a backup system, so we have three qualified individuals that we are trying to bring in to help us address this situation.”


Andrea Polanco

“How soon will they brought in and are they from Costa Rica or El Salvador?”


Lindsay Garbutt

“They are from different Central American countries. We are trying to get them in as soon as possible, with one here before midday and the other two in before this afternoon.”


Tracy Panton


“Were you informed of other issues?


Lindsay Garbutt

“We know that we have less traffic controllers than we want to have. We have six new ones and looking at bring six new ones in April and we are trying to alleviate. The department certainly looks at this as a grave matter because the country is being affected. It is of concern.”


Tracy Panton, C.E.O., Ministry of Tourism & Civil Aviation

“We have had several meetings with the air traffic control unit. Personally, I have been involved in those meetings. Any concerns they brought to the table, we have tried to address as best as we can. There was certainly no indication to me or to the office that there were additional concerns weren’t being addressed. I, myself, am blindsided by this event and it is certainly very unfortunate.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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