Published On: Thu, Feb 11th, 2016

Director Civil Aviation denies conflict of interest in hiring new inspectors

Oscar DerbyWILLEMSTAD – On January 4 of this year, the Curaçao Civil Aviation Authority (CCAA) hired two new inspectors, Oscar Wason, a former pilot for the defunct local airline ALM and Reginald Richie, who was also employed at ALM and the defunct Dutch airline Martinair.

For many this is a great acquisition for the CCAA, but there is one problem. According to the registry of the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Richie’s wife is the managing director of Divi Divi Air, which operates flights between Curaçao and Bonaire. The company also operates charter flights to Aruba and the Venezuelan cities of Punto Fijo and Valencia.

Mr. Richie is also registered as the managing director of the Divi Divi Air Group Holding, which, according to the registry of the chamber of commerce, owns and deals with real estate. The company is registered at the Curaçao airport.

“This could mean a serious conflict of interest,” according to an aviation expert, who requested to remain unknown. “Even if it is his wife who is registered as the manager, Richie is co-owner of an airline and this could lead to favoritism if he’s working as an inspector at the CCAA.”

The question now is what will happen if one of his aircraft has to be inspected. Will he remain neutral if the case presents itself that one of his aircraft has to be grounded?

According to the CCAA Director, Oscar Derby, the CCAA has written procedures for the avoidance of conflict of interest in the conduct of their duties. These are being applied to and observed by all staff, said Derby after receiving questions through a phone chat system.

“The relationship of Capt. Richie and all staff to persons in the industry are known. The nature of the duties carried out by Capt. Richie and others with relatives in the industry do not present a conflict of interest,” said Derby.

According to the aviation expert the issue here is not the experience and pedigree of the inspectors. It is whether the CCAA can be aboveboard and conflict free, thereby assuring the traveling public a totally unbiased and legal impropriety, direct or inferred.

Just the fact that in 2009 the Divi Divi Air had an accident, where it is alleged that the pilot complained that flights were overloaded is in itself a good example.

Photo: Oscar Derby (archive)

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