By Leroy Smith
Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan on Sunday said the unauthorized removal of two aircraft from the Eugene F. Correia International Airport, while security officers were present is very embarrassing to the security sector of this country.
Ramjattan said the incident leaves many questions rather than answers.
“It signals to me very easily that we could have had airplanes leaving that airport with a lot of gold and narcotics and people just did not know how to stop them and it is very embarrassing to the security sector and it is something that has to be remedied immediately” he told News Room during an interview on Sunday afternoon.
According to the Public Security Minister, the fact that the planes were able to take off without providing their flight plan among other things, reveals that there are vulnerabilities at the airport and lack of coordination between the airport security and the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, something that he said that latter agency has since cleared itself of.
He went on to disclose that there were many instances of reported and unreported cases of landing of strange aircraft to several airports in other parts of the country to facilitate the drugs and smuggling trade.
Noting that the aircraft would have had to be refueled in order to meet to the location they are presently grounded, the notion of this heist being possibly planned was put to the Public Security Minister who agreed.
He noted that this view was communicated to the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority but the head of the agency assured him that her agency had no part to play in such.
The Minister is in support of a one-man commission to get to the bottom of the embarrassing development and said that while the developments involve security, the business of the airports falls under the ambit of the Minister of Public Infrastructure who has responsibility for the aviation sector.
On Saturday morning two Cessna 206 aircraft which are the subject of a Supreme Court Litigation, were flown out of the airport without the knowledge and authorization of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority.
The aircraft took off without filing a flight plan with the Air Traffic Control Tower or informing customs and immigration which have a 24/7 presence at the airport. The airport security was intact according to the Ogle Airport Inc.
The planes illegally flew through several regional airspaces and one was eventually detained in Anguilla along with the pilot. The other aircraft allegedly departed for Puerto Rico with forged documents. One of the pilots has since been identified as Guyana-born Munidat Persaud who owns a flight school and charter service in the United States. The other Pilot is not licensed to fly planes in Guyana’s airspace.
The aircraft, valued at least US$110,000 each, are owned by Oxford Aviation.