NATA moves to Court of Appeal to block renaming of Ogle Int’l Airport – not ruling out taking case to CCJ

As the Ogle International Airport (OIA) renaming debacle deepens, the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has signalled its intention to appeal a Supreme Court decision not to grant its injunction blocking the change of name to the Eugene F Correia International Airport.
On Wednesday, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson told the media that the  injunction filed by NATA was dismissed, paving the way for Guyana’s second international airport to be renamed at a ceremony on May 9, 2016 that coincides with Independence celebrations.
However, NATA’s Attorney, Christopher Ram on Wednesday told a news conference that the Association has already made a submission to the Court of Appeal seeking redress. A date for  that hearing has not yet been set.
Ram was confident that the Court of Appeal would rule in NATA’s favour and the injunction would be granted.
“It is quite possible that this decision can be reversed on appeal,” the Attorney stated.
He also made it clear that if the appeal was not granted, NATA was not ruling out taking the matter to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
The controversy surrounding the renaming of the OIA started when President David Granger, on September 17, 2015 at the commissioning of the Correia-owned Trans-Guyana Airways Beechcraft, urged that the Board of Directors of  the Airport consider renaming the facility the Eugene F Correia International Airport in recognition of Guyana’s first Minister of Communications, Shipping and Aviation.
However, nine of the ten operators at the Airport have rejected the proposed name change, arguing that it would create unfair competition, since the name is similar to that of the Chairman of the Board, Michael Correia.
Additionally, they are arguing that the Correias are controlling the Board of Directors and are the owners of a competing airline, Trans-Guyana Airways, which operates out of that Airport.
The nine companies opposing the change are Air Services Limited (ASL); Domestic Airways; Hinterland Aviation; Hopkinson Mining Aviation; Jags Aviation; Oxford Aviation; Phoenix Airways; Roraima Airways, and Wings Aviation – all members of NATA.
NATA President Annette Arjoon-Martins had said the Airport was incorporated back in 2000 with five shareholders, each holding 20 per cent in shares. According to her, they all served as Directors of the company.
“Fifteen years later through a series of manipulations by the Chairman, Mr Michael Correia, the Correia Group of Companies, which he also heads, now owns 67 per cent of the shares in this company. As a result, Ogle Inc has become a member of the Correia Group of Companies.”
She said of the original five founding directors, only two were allowed to remain. More than that, five of the seven directors of OAI currently are either family or associates of the Correia Group, which now controls everything at the Airport.
“It was never the intention of the five founding shareholders/directors that one of the aircraft operators should have control at the Airport. It was also never the intention of the Government of Guyana when they signed the lease agreement with OIA in 2000 that one single operator would control the Airport in 2016. It should be noted that Government had used the word “fair and equitable access” in this master lease no less than 40 times.”
Meanwhile, NATA member Captain Gerry Gouveia has now issued a call for the renaming of the facility to be subjected to a parliamentary debate, similar to what obtained when the Timehri International Airport was renamed the Cheddi Jagan International Airport in 1997.