Several aviation operators had expressed dissatisfaction with the “exorbitant” and “oppressive” prices being forced upon them by Ogle Airport Inc (OAI) for the subleasing of state lands that the company acquired.
OAI controls 441 acres of land. This is a state asset that they have been handed to operate.
The master lease between OAI and the Government of Guyana states that OAI has to pay US$6 per acre a year or five percent of its revenue. However, OAI demands US$6,098 from the subleases in years 2016 and 2017. From this year, subleases will have to pay US$6,104 per acre, until 2020.
OAI has already signalled their intention to further raise the fee to US$7,405 per acre. This will take effect from 2021 to 2023.
This was highlighted in this newspaper’s Sunday edition. It prompted a response from OAI yesterday.
OAI said that all the major operators agreed with the price when it was decided.
The release stated, “Three Members of NATA (National Air Transport Association), ASL (Air Services Limited), JAGS and Hopkinson, after protracted discussions agreed to the Board approved rates and paid down on new airside land leases, ASL ultimately gave up their lease and was refunded.”
However, OAI neglected to state that BK International, the parent company of Jags Aviation, had strongly objected to the rates.
During a previous meeting OAI held with Kaieteur News, it presented a letter sent by BK requesting a longer lease because of the magnitude of the investment.
Another concern of BK, expressed in writing, was the rates charged by OAI.
BK stated in its letter that it would like the yearly fee to be reduced to US$5,000. BK stated, “In the event that you cannot accommodate the proposed changes, my preference would be to have the deposit returned to us.”
Kaieteur News understands that different companies are being offered different rates.
Of six companies that are being leased, the lowest annual lease rental is paid by Caribbean Aviation and Maintenance Services (CAMS). CAMS is a company owned by the Correias.
OAI said in its statement that its rates to operators are “founded on the substantial development of the infrastructure supporting the leased land and it is ridiculous to make a comparison to a basic land lease rate.”
However, this newspaper spoke to several operators who said that OAI did not develop the various plots of land that they were subleased. “We even had to build our own roadway and taxiway.”
To reduce their costs, some of the lessees requested permission from OAI, to use their own heavy duty equipment to build their taxiway and roadways under the oversight of OAI’s engineering consultant, Marcel Gaskin, who is also a Director/Shareholder of OAI as well as Chairman of the land committee.
This request was denied, while the Correia Group was allowed to use their company’s equipment to do their work.
OAI said that the existing land lease revenue “barely covers the cost of the land lease obligations to the GOG and its revenue is far from making ‘a kill’.”
It is clear then that “Aviation Operative” source who has access to the same information is dishonestly distorting it while exercising personal animosity to the Airport and deliberately manipulating the facts to damage the reputation of the Company.
The company also stated, “The E.F.C International Airport has to cater and balance all of these interests at the same time so it may not be in a position at all times to please every operator as the standards required for international operations increases over time.”
Aviation operators have been complaining about several issues at Eugene F. Correia International Airport. Kaieteur News understands that several letters have been written to Ministers of the present and past government. The fee issue was highlighted in a letter sent to Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson.
However, the issue is yet to be addressed.
When some of the issues affecting large and small operators at the Eugene F. Correia International Airport were put to officials of OAI, they said that they asked Minister Patterson to set up an airport review committee but he never did.
The issues remain unaddressed.
OAI is a private company that operates the Eugene F Correia International Airport. It was given a lease for 25 years in 2001.
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