(CMR) The International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Association has expressed concern about Haiti's airspace after the attempted kidnapping of three air traffic controllers over the weekend near the international airport in Port-au-Prince.
The International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Association, in a statement posted on its website, said it is “gravely concerned”.” The incident left one air traffic controller with a gunshot wound to the right leg and in need of surgery.
Executive vice president of the Association for the Americas region for Trish Gilbert said Haiti's National Office of Civil Aviation has been using unqualified and unlicensed individuals to control the country's skies.
“I get that they don't know what to do to keep their air traffic controllers safe. But we don't believe the answer is to just find people who have just never been air traffic controllers or were air traffic controllers 10 years ago and plug them in and have them move airplanes. There has to be a better plan than that,” Gilbert told Miami Herald.
Gilbert said she planned to meet with Dominican officials about the concerns as the country has regular flights to Port-au-Prince.
A source told the Herald that there were active duty traffic controllers at work and armored vehicles would be available to protect them. The controllers were also to be housed nearby to limit their travel time to work.
The US has issued a Level 4 travel advisory, advising residents to avoid travel to Haiti. Security has been a major concern in Haiti, with gangs taking over the country. Last week a popular politician and a journalist were killed in the recent flare-up of violence.