SENIOR Minister of State in the Office of the President, Simon Khaya-Moyo, has reiterated calls to improve conditions of service for air traffic controllers, saying they play a key role in the growth of the country’s tourism sector. Air traffic control is a service provided by ground-based controllers who direct aircraft on the ground through controlled airspace and can provide advisory services to aircraft to non-controlled space.
The primary purpose of air traffic control worldwide is to prevent collisions, organise and expedite the flow of air traffic. “All efforts to bring economic success and grow tourism contributions hinge on the excellent safety record and professionalism that our air traffic controllers have produced over the years,” said Khaya-Moyo.
He was speaking in Kariba recently during commemorations of the International Day of the Air Traffic Controller, organised by the Air Traffic Controllers Association of Zimbabwe (ATCAZ). On October 20 every year, the world celebrates the role played by air traffic controllers in recognition of the founding of the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Associations (IFATCA).
ATCAZ is a professional organisation of air traffic controllers employed the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) and is a member of IFATCA which represents more than 50 000 air traffic controllers from over 135 countries worldwide.
This year’s commemorations ran under the theme, “A Proud and Professional Air Traffic Control Family: Active in the Community.”
Khaya-Moyo said air traffic controllers remained busy in 2014. “Over the past years we have witnessed a positive growth in air traffic volumes,” he said.
“New airlines among them Fast Jet and Fly Africa started flying in Zimbabwe this year and the volumes of over fliers increased. The successful hosting of the Routes Africa 2014 and the SADC (Southern African Development Community) summit are some of the major highlights that kept the air traffic controllers busy for 2014.”
The increase in volumes has said necessitated the splitting of the upper airspace into two, said ATCAZ. Khaya-Moyo, a former minister of transport and ATCAZ patron, said the safety record of the national flag carrier, Air Zimbabwe, was attributable to the sterling efforts of air traffic controllers.
“It must be remembered that the air traffic controllers are the nerve centre of air travel and therefore must be afforded appropriate remuneration and utmost respect,” said Khaya-Moyo.
“They (air traffic controllers) also partner our security forces in safeguarding our skies and facilitating the smooth and safe movement of VVIP and VIP flights.”
He said there was a need to ensure the upgrading of the air traffic control tools of trade to ensure all requisite infrastructure and facilities were in an excellent condition and high quality. “I am proud to note that the Zimbabwean air traffic controllers even with the substantial increase in air flight volumes continue to prove their capacity to work under pressure by producing accident free airspace management for CAAZ and the country as a whole,” said Khaya-Moyo.
ATCAZ president, Evans Makuku bemoaned that their profession remained one of the more obscure jobs with many people still ignorant about it. “Ours is a job that requires us to maintain high levels of good health so that we pass the regular medical examinations regardless of age,” he explained.
“The profession of air traffic control requires intelligence, diligence, dedication and a host of other skills. Controllers have the critical role to maintain a safe, orderly and movement of air traffic.” He added that as part of their efforts to sensitise the public on their job they always sought the involvement and participation of the public in their programmes. – Mandla Tshuma