Meet Rick Cocom, a resident of Ladyville, in the Belize District. On the worst day in the history of Air Traffic Control in Belize, flights were diverted to other countries, passengers had to pay for layovers that were not caused by the airlines, but by sick air traffic controllers on Saturday, February 22nd. Reports have surfaced of Central Americans being brought in to replace the sick employees who incidentally have a dispute with their employers over salary increments.
A former employee of the airport received a call he didn't expect. When Rick Cocom retired from the airport he had no idea that his services would be needed. On the screens were 354 flight movements an 15 international flight vectors (not sure what it means but it sounds technical) and Cocom says " I was in the control radar room to work from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. One of the most hectic days for me but i am greatful to assist.
Cocom worked 28 years with the airport before moving onto the prison to work in Human Resources. There were two other Belizeans with him. Victor Moreno and a female who had just returned from studies. They worked both Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday Cosessna brought in three trainers from El Salvador to assist with the radar and traffic. However it is not known how familiar they are with our air space.
The repercussions of this day has cast a dark shadow on Belize in international media, but if it wasn't for people like Rick there would have been no flights on Saturday. Cocom now works with the prison.
An airline insider has said "A very interesting chapter was written in aviation. Feb 21st, 2015...these men and women, who man the tower and radar room, love their jobs, even though it's stressful, long hours, and some time late nights...
When professionals in their fields reach this point, it was not done by thinking rash or from the hip, it's brought on by many days, weeks, months and even years under the bridle of stress and problems to be look at and fixed."Jose Sanchez