Caribbean News Service (CNS).
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, May 10 2016, CNS – As Guyana gets ready to mark its 50th anniversary of independence, the privately-owned Ogle International Airport has been renamed the Eugene F. Correia International Airport in honour of one of the country’s aviation pioneers.
Eugene Francis Correia was a founding member of the United Democratic Party which later merged with the Peoples National Congress.
He played a very significant role in Guyana’s thrust for independence. He was appointed minister of communications in 1964, holding the aviation portfolio, and then later minister of works, serving in the Cabinet for four years; and remained a member of parliament until the time of his death in 1973.
President David Granger, who made the initial proposal for the renaming of the airport in September last year, said Correia’s defence of the ability of Guyanese extended to the aviation sector.
“Eugene Correia was first appointed minister of communications on the 31st of December 1964, a post he held until October 1968. He then served as minister of works and hydraulics, a ministry now described as the ministry of public infrastructure; and then he became minister of communications, with responsibility among other things for the aviation sector. So indeed he was the first minister who had responsibility for aviation after independence,” Granger said.
“While he was in government he introduced the whole concept of Guyanisation in the aviation sector, not only in the public service, and in that regard you can say he triggered the transformation of the aviation sector to resemble more or less what we have today.”
Granger added that his recommendation was simply a recognition of the character of the man.
“It was with pleasure therefore that I received a letter informing me of the Board’s agreement with my suggestion and of its decision to apply to the government to change the name of the airport. No dictatorship; everything above board,” Granger said, a clear reference to those opposed to the name change.
Over the past several months, and particularly within the past few weeks, there has been tension surrounding the name change.
But the Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, who also addressed the renaming ceremony, said government will work with all stakeholders to ensure that a satisfactory consensus is reached.
He also outlined government’s commitment to the improvement of civil aviation.
“Currently Guyana has signed on to the effective implementation of the standards and recommended practices established to ensure the safe and orderly development of civil aviation,” Patterson said.
“Government is committed to drastically reducing the incidence of air accidents. When it comes to compliance with ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation), the regional average is above 70 percent while Guyana currently stands at 44 percent compliance. Government’s goal is to move Guyana to 60 percent compliance shortly.
“To bolster domestic operations, work has already begun to improve oversight capacities and additional personnel have expanded several units including the Aviation Security Unit, the Air Transportation Management Department and the Aviation Safety Department. Government is also focussing on the upgrade of the air navigation service through the implementation of aeronautical surveillance service using automatic dependence surveillance broadcast. Additionally, a draft aircraft accident and investigation Act has been circulated to stakeholders to comment. A review of Guyana aviation laws is also necessary and government is already looking into these developments,” Patterson added.