CARICOM leaders want plan of action from state-owned airlines

CARICOM leaders in Grenada

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada  — Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders have called on state-owned airlines to develop a plan of action and road map by February next year aimed at increasing their efforts towards enhancing their level of collaboration and coordination for the benefit of the travelling public.

According to the communique issued at the end of their annual summit in Grenada last Thursday, the regional leaders said that they had reached agreement on key air transportation issues recognising that member states’ effective implementation of the new international aviation Standards and Recommended Practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for safety and airport security was fundamental to engendering confidence.

The leaders noted that such confidence was not only necessary among member states to implement many of the measures to facilitate ease of travel in the region but also for third countries so that they continue to highlight the region’s airports as acceptable destination points for tourists and for the movement of people and goods.

“To this end, Heads of Government welcomed the support of the ICAO, for their No Country Left Behind Initiative to assist member states in implementation and for their commitment to provide resources for other regional air transportation initiatives,” according to the communique.

It noted that the leaders had “mandated the Government-owned airlines to continue to increase their efforts towards enhancing their level of collaboration and coordination for the benefit of the travelling public and urged that their plan of action and roadmap be finalised by February 2018”.

The leaders also agreed that the establishment of a single airspace should be pursued and mandated the CARICOM Secretariat to work with Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System (CASSOS) and relevant agencies to define a roadmap and identify the necessary resources for its implementation.

“They however recognised the need for the administrative strengthening of the legal, operational and institutional framework as well as the appropriate resourcing of the CASSOS to enable it to discharge its mandate as an effective and efficient Regional Safety Oversight Organisation.”

The communique noted that in endorsing the priorities in the work programme of the Regional Transportation Commission, the leaders acknowledged that the major constraint to the execution of the work of the Commission was the lack of budgetary resources.

It said that the leaders, recognising that the new Multilateral Air Services Agreement (MASA) only required resolution of very few matters, mandated the CARICOM Secretariat to work with member states to enable signature at the next Inter-Sessional Meeting in Haiti in February 2018.

The leaders also agreed to several measures complementary to the MASA as recommended by the Commission on the Economy, including addressing the issue of the multi-layered regime of aviation taxes; the operationalisation of the Community of Interest Principle to guide liberalized Air services agreements between member states and third states; the joint negotiation of future air services agreements with potential targets identified as China, Japan, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, and the United Arab Emirates.