Saba’s Juancho Yrausquin International Airport has been undergoing some major changes recently with a comprehensive safety overhaul of the airstrip and general facilities that will include renovations to the terminal as well. There will be a new fire station and an upgrade that includes a lighting system that should bring the facilities of the airport within reach of becoming certified through aviation inspections.
According to Saba’s Commissioner of Aviation, Chris Johnson, these upgrades will be a step forward for the future of aviation on Saba. However, the most important aspect for the future of Saba’s airport needs to be an investment in human resources. With the start of the renovation project, it became apparent that upgrading in the qualification and production in the area of airport management needed to be raised to meet the goal of certifying the Juancho Yrausquin Airport.
In March of this year, an interim airport manager was brought in for a three month period, to assess the situation and make a report, along with recommendations, on how to move forward in the area of airport management. After the departure of this expert, the Island Government opened an internal vacancy of the Airport Manager internally for applicants to apply. Two applicants applied the current acting airport manager and AFIS Officer Marcel Peterson, and tower employee and also certified AFIS Officer Maegan Hassell. The Acting Island Secretary and along with an aviation expert from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment of the Netherlands interviewed both applicants.
Based on the interviews and the candidates, the island government has decided to move forward in a way that will mean an upgrading for both individuals and the airport. The executive council has awarded the position of Candidate Airport manager to Ms. Maegan Hassell, and the position of Candidate Adjunct Airport Manager to Marcel Peterson. Now they will be put on a trajectory to become the Airport Manager and Adjunct Airport manager in time with a series of courses and evaluations. The decision has been to make extensive aviation and management training available for both individuals in collaboration with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment. Course areas include courses in Airport Certification, Safety Management Systems, Airport manuals, Airport Management, Crisis Management, Airspace management and implementation of ICAO regulations. Along with the courses, a coach will be retained to assist with onsite training and upgrading.
The goal is to have both individuals trained to a higher level, and also have the positions looked as having shared responsibilities. According to Commissioner Johnson, “It will take a team effort to be able to take the next step forward for the Airport. Both individuals will be assessed along the way. A job description will be drafted for the Adjunct Airport manager, and that will include working together with the airport manager in the form of a management team with regular duties. Mr. Peterson will remain in his current role of Acting Airport Manager until Saba’s new island secretary arrives in October. With this target date, the two candidates will be able to start off with the new head civil servant all at the same time.
“I would like to congratulate Ms. Hassell as the new Candidate Airport Manager and Mr. Peterson as the new Candidate Adjunct Airport Manager. This should be looked at by the two of them as the beginning of a process, and not as the end of the road,” concluded Johnson.
Press release GIS Saba