The head of one of the Caribbean’s regional airlines has called for a meeting of Caribbean Community leaders to discuss transportation issues.
LIAT chairman Jean Holder said in a paper to that company’s members that a summit was necessary to discuss the role of regional air transportation to support the Caribbean Single Market and Economy.
With the imminent pullout of American Eagle, plus the pullout of British Airways from Puerto Rico and Virgin potentially stopping its Tobago service, as well as the precarious position of Caribbean Airlines and LIAT, a meeting was timely, he said. “A service that is critical to the survival of the Single Market and Economy must be the concern of the entire community,” Mr. Holder said. “It must be about what is needed to get regional transportation right and what and how much each country which is a beneficiary of the services will contribute to the cause in its own best interests. The agenda must be wide enough to include a number of aviation issues which are related to the proper functioning of regional air transportation.”
Mr. Holder said that the discussion shouldn’t be restricted to the efficiency or expense of existing services, although that was a concern. He said that talking about what caused the inefficiencies and how all tourism stakeholders could contribute to the situation in order to achieve desired objectives.
“This is a discussion that many of those who now benefit, and will benefit even more from an improved service, have, to date, refused to entertain,” he said.
Mr. Holder went on to say that there were many forms of cooperation which could be considered including code sharing, alliances, cooperation and a holding company or even an outright merger of Caribbean airlines. But these issues needed to be put on the table and a committee including management representatives of carriers be established “without delay, to examine the feasibility of this concept”.