Cuba Seeks “Revolutionary” Air Traffic Controllers

By Daniel Benitez  (Cafe Fuerte)

An expert in air navigation control and a Cuban air traffic controller. Photo: Ladyrene Perez
An expert in air navigation control and a Cuban air traffic controller. Photo: Ladyrene Perez

HAVANA TIMES — With flights to Cuba on the rise, the Cuban Aiports and Aviation Services company has launched a call to train 50 air traffic controllers, who will earn a basic monthly salary of 455 Cuban pesos (CUP), about 18 convertible pesos (equivalent to 16 USD).

The advertisement published by the president of the Cuban Aviation Corporation, Ramon Martinez Echavarria, explains that after a 12 month course, those chosen can earn 100 CUP (5 USD) more for their skills, 105 CUP for learning and 44 CUC in bonuses, which will raise their total income to about 70.4 CUC, which would be the equivalent to about 62 US dollars per month.

With this salary, being an air traffic controller in Cuba would be one of the best paid jobs in a country where the average monthly wage is about 28 USD, although if you take into account the high level of stress and responsibility that this job implies, it’s still nowhere enough.

Requirements needed

Amongst the nine requirements you need in order to become a candidate for this “super salary” you have to be between 20 and 30 years old, a high school graduate or equivalent, prove your English skills before an examining board, pass different health and mental exams, serve your military service, in the case of men, and an evaluation of the “revolutionary nature” of the applicant.

Points 7 and 9 of the requirements are very clear: the applicant must pass a socio-political interview and “hold a social and political posture in line with the Revolution’s principles.”

According to the government website Cubadebate, the call for air traffic controllers has come about because of an organic update of staff, as worker shifts are 6 hours long and there are 800 flights a day.

Out of those who will be chosen at the end of the training, five will work in Santa Clara, four in Santiago de Cuba, three in Varadero, three in Cayo Coco, three in Havana and 25 in the AREA Control Center. The rest of them will be sent to the Isle of Youth, Cienfuegos, Camaguey, Guantanamo and Baracoa.

Flights on the rise

The unusual ad offering a paid training course, has come to light just weeks before the long awaited direct flights between the US and Cuba begin and the resulting increase in airport operations from autumn onwards.

The imminent launch of these direct flights from the US to Cuba has created doubts among US aviation officials and federal legislators about Cuban airports’ capacity for security and technical equipment, forcing a response from the Security Department at Cuba’s Civil Aviation Institute (IACC). The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has visited Cuban airports and came to an agreement in July with Cuban authorities about airport security.

In Cuba, comparisons are frequently being made between its citizens and the US. In this case, the fact that a US air traffic controller earns an average of $122,950 USD per year in 2015, which is $59.11 USD per hour, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, isn’t mentioned anywhere.

That’s to say, for doing the same job in the US, an air traffic controller earns in an hour what a Cuban would in a month.

However, US air traffic controllers aren’t even the best paid in the world. In 2010, the 10 Spanish air traffic controllers who earned the most were pocketing nearly a million euros, while Irish controllers were making an average of 160,000 euros per year.

7 thoughts on “Cuba Seeks “Revolutionary” Air Traffic Controllers

  • Thank you Carlyle, so petro is approximately 4.00 US dollars a gallon. Not too bad as cab drivers probably get 14 miles a gallon so net profit is decent. Regarding insurance, seems to me this is for injury only which isn’t that much as well. Sadly, driving a cab is more lucrative than being a MD. I don’t deny there’s sincere dedication but again, not good balance wise.

  • They sell it in liters (litres). 83 octane gas is 85 cents but 93 octane is $1.15
    Tourists who hire cars (CubaCar and Havana Car) are compelled by contract to use 93 octane fuel even in those wretched Chinese Geely cars. All gas stations will only sell 93 octane to hire cars. It is yet another way of ripping off the tourist. I leave you to convert to your US gallons!
    Incidentally, a Geely hired for three days or more costs $65 per day plus $18 per day compulsory insurance. But if you as much as scratch the car you must obtain a police report or the insurance is null and void and you have to pay for the damage yourself. When you get the car the tank is full, but when returning it there is no compensation for the gas in the tank, so it pays to try to minimize the amount of gas in the tank. The prices I quote are US $ equivalent.

  • Carlyle, approximately how much is a gallon of petrol in Cuba?

  • Some cab drivers make over $50.00 a day and forget about bartenders, I was one in the late eighties, NYC, 18 years old and it paid for my college, two trips to PR and a brand new car. Bartenders make a fortune. Just isn’t right and going to be a major problem, in my opinion.

  • My best friend is a neurosurgeon at Calixto Garcia hospital in Havana. In fact, he is the Chief of Surgery. He earns about $40 usd per month. His daughter is a cabaret dancer at the Parisien in the Hotel Nacional. She makes about $150 usd per month. Go figure!

  • Cuba is a dream for me and most certainly not a country I know much about however this is amazing! 18 dollars for one of the most stressful jobs in the world? Don’t know how long the present regime is going to be able to continue this. AirBnB most certainly is the way to go along with bar tending and waiting. Doesn’t compute, professional jobs pay nothing and service industry trumps big time.

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