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Updated: Air Traffic Controllers 'Sick Out' Causes Easter Flight Delays And Cancellations

The Lynden Pindling International Airport.

The Lynden Pindling International Airport.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

FRUSTRATED and angry travellers suffered lengthy delays and cancellations at the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) on Thursday after a number of air traffic controllers engaged in a "sick out".

Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna Martin confirmed to The Tribune that the 'sick out' - co-ordinated industrial action by employees not showing up for work by feigning illness - had occurred on the morning of one of the airport's busiest days of the year with people travelling for the Easter holidays.

"As a result of the action taken many international and domestic flights suffered significant delay with American Airlines cancelling three of its flights, I am advised," Mrs Hanna Martin said in a statement later. "The action taken by the (Bahamas Air Traffic Controllers) Union is of an extreme nature in its impact to the Bahamian people and our economy.

"It has led to economic loss, gross inconvenience and an unwarranted interference with the right to the enjoyment of movement by air. All of this has no doubt impacted the reputation of The Bahamas in the travel industry, the foundation of our economy."

The air traffic controllers were understood to be taking the protest action - which apparently came as a surprise - over a variety of concerns. Some tourists were reportedly being returned to their hotels and told to come back to LPIA to take a flight on Friday. Last night it was suggested that further American Airlines flights had been cancelled.

There were reports of passengers sitting on planes for up to two hours waiting to get airborne and cancellations of flights to the United States. One passenger in Freeport told The Tribune he had been waiting for the 12.30pm flight to Nassau and the plane to take them had not arrived from LPIA until 3pm.

"This morning, the Bahamas Air Traffic Controllers Union engaged in an apparent industrial action with a number of air traffic controllers calling in sick," Mrs Hanna Martin's statement read. "The Bahamas Air Navigation Service Division (BANSD) put in place a contingency plan incorporating air traffic controllers who reported for duty along with online managers which permitted operations to continue.

"This industrial action, however, significantly slowed down the movement of aircraft during what is normally a very busy period before the Easter holidays.

"This action taken by surprise, relates, according to the President, to a number of outstanding matters which are the current subject of discussion with the Ministries of Transport and Labour ranging from the frequency of the shuttle service from the security checkpoint to the Tower to the payment of outstanding holiday pay and other money matters. Indeed the Minister of Labour is currently in ongoing dialogue with the Union relative to some of these matters."

The Easter holiday season is traditionally busy for the airport. In a statement, a spokesperson for the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) said the delays are not unusual for airports around the world at this time of year.

It was not immediately known how many workers called in sick but there were unconfirmed reports that only one air traffic controller reported for the morning shift. The Tribune understands all but a few officers were in post on Thursday afternoon and that the backlog was being managed.

It is not the first time recently the air traffic controllers have inconvenienced passengers. In September, a three-hour stoppage by the union over an Airport Authority protocol mandating security screening of all personnel accessing the secured airside at LPIA caused delays and some cancellations.

Dr Hubert Minnis, Leader of the Free National Movement (FNM), was quick to lambast the government for its failure to pay government employees.

“Today we were given another instance of failed PLP leadership. This trend is unacceptable. We’ve learned that Air Traffic Control has had a work slowdown, forcing 40 planes to a one-hour ground hold. This is a direct result of the PLP government’s failure to ensure that government employees are paid what they are owed, when they are owed it,” Dr Minnis said in a statement on Thursday night.

“The lack of leadership from this government is highlighted every day. To have people working for you and then not to pay them is simply wrong. It follows the PLP’s trending neglect and lack of care for the constituents they’re indebted to help. The members of the government get paid on time. Why do they not treat all Bahamians with the same integrity? This is another case of the PLP taking care of themselves while leaving others to fend for themselves.”

“Under the leadership of the FNM, people will be paid what they are owed. No questions asked. It doesn’t matter if you are a customs employee, an immigration employee, an Air Traffic Controller or any other government employee. We will pay everyone for the service provided. On May 10th, it is time to elect an FNM government that cares.”

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 5 months ago

Oh my God, the contingency plan put in place likely means the grossly incompetent Glenys Hanna-Martin will personally be manning the radar scopes to direct aircraft in heavily trafficked air space! My wife told me point blank she ain't flying if this lame-brained Hanna-Martin woman is directing the air traffic!!

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DDK 1 year, 5 months ago

Sometimes you talk sense.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 5 months ago

I much prefer your harsher criticisms as they are much more becoming of your blissful ignorance when it somes to the most serious shortcomings of Minnis!

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Cobalt 1 year, 5 months ago

Why you mad at DDK? He's telling the truth. You talk sense some days; but on other days you talk nonsense. Lol

P.S.
I think you meant to write "sums" not "somes."

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DDK 1 year, 5 months ago

Why don't you spell out once and for all what you really have against the good Doc? It seems hell hath no fury like a man or woman scorned.

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DDK 1 year, 5 months ago

You, on the other hand, always talk sense!

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Cobalt 1 year, 5 months ago

Lol. My brother just told me that Perry Christie was at a rally handing out bails of rice. Tell me this isn't true.

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ohdrap4 1 year, 5 months ago

is this a rally of the new 500 chinese citizens? rice for votes?

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The_Oracle 1 year, 5 months ago

So, in order to get the Governments attention pre-election time, you know, to get your piece, your promises, You inconvenience the traveling public and your revenue stream (tourists?) I swear we are the dumbest bunch ever to be given the opportunity to crap in our own hats!

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John 1 year, 5 months ago

Obviously the traffic controllers are headed by someone with an over inflated ego that needs to be pressurized from time to time. Anyone in their right mind does not initiate industrial action against a government after the house of assembly has been dissolved. Virtually all seats of parliament are vacant and even if some agreement was made at this late hour who would it be binding on. And a new government could always chalk it up as "election promises." The person who called the industrial action is definitely unfit to be an air traffic controller.

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Kiley 1 year, 5 months ago

I made 2 trips into Nassau today frist one at 7:30 am. One controller working ground and Tower they brought me dangerously close to another aircraft. It then took 1 Hour and a half to get back out. Turned around went back for the next Charter got in line at 10:30 am took off at 2:00pm. Had 2 more flights schedule but had to cancel them. Some contingency plan

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Kiley 1 year, 5 months ago

One more thing that makes even less sense is while they have us waiting one Bahamas Air and pineapple Air loaded with the ones who is so posed to pay them. They jump the line and get priority to go campaign

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DDK 1 year, 5 months ago

Just disgusting! Nothing new though. Par for the course.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 5 months ago

Sooooooo, what are they "sicking out" for?????? ........... more pay??????........ better working conditions?????? ........... new CBA????????? ............. No details in the story at all

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alfalfa 1 year, 5 months ago

Ronald Reagan fired them all in the USA, and brought in military substitutes, and LOP fired them all in Freeport. They should not be allowed to hold the country and our major industry hostage.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 5 months ago

Not only did President Ronald Reagan fire all of the PATCO union members who participated in the strike, he also signed an executive order preventing their rehiring anywhere in the U.S. as air traffic controllers for the remainder of their lives. Now that's a leader with chutzpah!

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DDK 1 year, 5 months ago

Talking sense again. LOL!

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 5 months ago

When will MOTA or NAD pull down the original NIA??????? ...... Typical Third World eyesore situation ............. Has the Met people been moved from the old NIA yet????? ......... And this government "crying crocodile tears" about why would these people go on strike????????

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realfreethinker 1 year, 5 months ago

make sure fire perry them at the same time

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Jetflt 1 year, 5 months ago

Reagan did it right...........fire them and issue an order that never permits another strike.

And who is the stupid -ss at NAD that made this statement????

"The Easter holiday season is traditionally busy for the airport. In a statement, a spokesperson for the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) said the delays are not unusual for airports around the world at this time of year."

Delays associated with what.......ATC controller strikes or Easter?!?! Trust me - there are no delays associated with Easter at airports around the world! What airports have you run in the world besides LPIA?? You are obviously clueless!

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Godson 1 year, 5 months ago

"the right to the enjoyment of movement by air."????? Help me someone... PLEASE!?!?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 5 months ago

And the many who were left gasping for their lives during the recent dump fires just want the right to enjoy breathing fresh air.

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Socrates 1 year, 5 months ago

every time anybody jams the public, nothing is done to remedy in future. keep giving and giving.. i see 15% VAT coming while debt climbs to $10.0bil..

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John 1 year, 5 months ago

BUT GUESS WAT??? Hubert Ingraham fired this man who is behind this action...AND GUESS WAT...Perry Christie REHIRED him and brought him back!!! OK den

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Bahamaland 1 year, 5 months ago

Please don't strike during IAAF World Relays weekend. I'm flying in from NY and have friends coming from Canada and Europe. I don't know why Bahamians expect any better...I just tell my friends my homeland is beautiful and the people are 1st world in a third world country.

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stoner 1 year, 5 months ago

I remember flying in from Staniel Cay in a small single engine plane with just the three of us. The air traffic comtroller was a brother of the Man flying this single engine plane. He got his brother on the frequency and ask permission to land ahead of three big jumbo jets coming in from Europe, Germany and Heathrow airports. He made the larger planes circle for over thirty minutes burning buel while he bought in his brother.I thought, man is this man have pull. Costing these airliners thousands of dollars in fuel. The other captains on the planes did not know what was happening since he put his brother on a different frequency. By oh By that is Pull in my mine. I did not complain due to an early arrival after fishing all day in the hot sun and cooking the fish and eating raw Conch on the Man's Island. Personally I like that kind of connections.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 5 months ago

This is how many PLPs are reacting to the changing fortunes of their party leading up to the big 2017 election cut-ass that they are anticipating

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 5 months ago

As I've said countless times before : "THINK, THINK, THINK!!!" But I suspect many registered voters are still much too blinded by party loyalty to do just that. Weak minded voters have been severely blinded as a result of four decades of brainwashing by political party leaders (Pindling, Ingraham, Christie, McCartney and now Minnis) that has left them wrongly believing that political party loyalty matters to the exclusion of all else. But under our Westminster parliamentary system of government, we are all much better served when the best candidate in each constituency in terms of their integrity, intellect and common sense gets elected no matter what his or her party affiliation may be. We already have a four decade old track record that proves just voting along party lines for the more popular party of the day is a sure fire recipe for disaster. Corrupt politicians come to the front and thrive in settings where party loyalty is all that matters, relegating integrity, intellect and common sense to very low places on the totem pole. We need as many good qualified people sitting as MPs in the HOA as we can possibly get irrespective of their party affiliation....let the chips fall wherever they may when it comes to which party ends up with the most seats....we need the best MPs available for both good governance and good opposition. I therefore once again implore registered voters to THINK, THINK, THINK!!! And please encourage your family members and friends who are registered voters to do likewise. On a much more pleasant note this Holy Day, Happy Easter to all.

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Reality_Check 1 year, 5 months ago

@Mudda you are so right about what you say here. At the risk of being accused of using the good Lord's name in vain, most registered voters would not vote for Jesus Christ himself if he were running as an independent candidate in their constituency without being affiliated with either the PLP, DNA or FNM. And just think how many times we have all heard the ridiculous sentiment that a vote for the DNA may as well be a vote for the PLP because it would split the total vote in may constituencies leaving the FNM the loser. In other words, registered voters are being told time and time again to vote along party lines without any consideration of who in fact may be the best candidate for the job in terms of their honest character, smarts and good judgement. For Bahamian voters, it's all about the political party and it's precisely this wrong mindset that corrupt politicians encourage whether they be of the FNM, PLP or DNA variety. It's the kind of demented thinking that prevents us from ever having good governance through a robust government and equally robust opposition. I truly fear that we may be locked in a vicious cycle of corrupt rotating governments, whether FNM, PLP or DNA, all because most registered voters seem unable to do what you have been so strongly recommending: THINK, THINK THING!!!

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 5 months ago

The DNA was bank-rolled and endorsed by the PLP in 2012 ........ and it will serve a similar role in 2017 (except it will take votes away from the PLP) No DNA is running in Long Island ......... go figger

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John 1 year, 5 months ago

these double postings under different pen names are so patently obvious they fool no one. they are more insulting than anything else. Why do you have to keep patting yourself on your back?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 5 months ago

@John: Yes, could be same person...but then again could be 2 brothers or 2 sisters or 2 cousins or husband & wife or boyfriend & girlfriend or 2 good friends or nephew & uncle or niece & aunt or grandfather & grandson....and on and on. Don't let your infatuation with who may be who get the better of you...you really seem to be the only one overly interested. You can be certain though that @Reality_Check will get a good chuckle from this posting.

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Reality_Check 1 year, 5 months ago

BOL !!!! Thanks for getting my ribs to hurt.

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