MBJ Airports, operator of Jamaica’s leading gateway to the world, Sangster International Airport (SIA), is proud to announce its Emergency Response Manager Benton Allen joined the Airport Excellence (APEX) in Safety team of Airport Council International (ACI) on its recent mission to Nigeria.
ACI formulates training programs to help airports meet the standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) before they are audited for certification. ACI’s APEX team performs reviews of airports seeking ICAO or state certification ahead of an official audit.
Allen, 41, has participated in several Global Safety Network (GSN) training sessions and APEX reviews at SIA in his posts as Emergency Response Manager. MBJ established an ACI Training Centre at SIA in 2015 soon after the appointment of CEO Rafael Echevarne and the airport undergoes routine reviews as an ACI member. Its most recent review was conducted on security in April 2018.
“They were impressed with what they saw,” said Allen, adding that the leaders of the team encouraged him to sign up to be one of those persons who conduct the reviews. In June, Allen was invited to join the APEX team of international experts tasked to perform reviews of Akanu Ibiam International Airport and Kaduna International Airport in Nigeria.
“I was very honored on many fronts,” said Allen of the invitation. “I have always wanted to go to Africa; that was a personal achievement for me… On a professional note, I feel honored because ACI has many choices, many people to choose from.”
Allen and his colleagues on the APEX team spent two weeks between June and July on the mission in Nigeria. “I went with the mindset to learn as well,” he said, noting that just as at SIA, the APEX team used check-lists with review questions, performed interviews with key airport personnel and toured the facilities. “I would say they have some work to do,” relative to MBJ, said Allen of the two airports he reviewed. MBJ has a more mature aviation product in terms of procedures and compliance, but there’s a lot Jamaicans can learn from the Nigerian experience too, he said, noting his hosts were extremely gracious and provided outstanding service.
Allen hails from McField, a small community in the hills of Westmoreland, where he was raised by a single mother of modest means who struggled to send her three children to school. He began his career at SIA in 1996 as a firefighter after studying at Montego Bay Community College. He continued his education at the Institute of Management Sciences and then at Caribbean Institute of Technology and University College of the Caribbean while employed at SIA, working his way up the ranks until he was promoted to lead the airport’s team of firefighters in 2014. He has also held other posts at the airport, including Assistant Security Manager and Security Manager.
About MBJ Airports:
MBJ Airports Limited, operator of Sangster International Airport, connects Jamaica to more than 60 international destinations. A record 4.2m passenger used the airport in 2017. MBJ operates SIA under a 30-year concession awarded in 2003 and provides employment to more than 150 Jamaicans. SIA has been named the Caribbean’s Leading Airport by World Travel Awards for the past nine years in a row.