CARICOM Airways grounded

CASTRIES, St Lucia, Thursday December 30, 2010 – The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) has stopped the St Lucia-registered CARICOM Airways from flying in the Eastern Caribbean until it gets legal.

The ECCAA has informed the operators that the airline is operating illegally as it does not have the necessary Airline Operation Convention (AOC).

“The ECCAA therefore instructs CARICOM Airways to immediately discontinue its operations until such time that it has been issued with the appropriate AOC by the ECCAA,” the Authority’s Acting Director General Donald McPhail wrote to the airline’s Chief Executive Officer Rory Chin-A-Kwie.

The ECCAA correspondence confirmed what St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves had been telling St Lucia’s Tourism and Aviation Minister Allen Chastanet for weeks. 

Gonsalves had insisted that the airlines was in breach of ECCAA operating procedure when Chastanet threatened, last month, to stop Vincentian airlines SVG Air and Mustique Airways from operating in St Lucia, unless approval was given to CARICOM Airways’ application to fly to St Vincent and the Grenadines. 

He insisted that the airline was operating under the AOC from Suriname which, under CARICOM Convention, allows member countries to accept each other’s AOC.

But in the letter to Chin-A-Kwie, the ECCAA noted that even though CARICOM Airways has an AOC from the Civil Aviation Authority in Suriname, its principal place of business is St Lucia and “as such, and by virtue of the Civil Aviation Regulations of St. Lucia, CARICOM Airways must apply for and obtain an AOC issued by the ECCAA before commencing commercial air transport operations”.

It added that Chastanet’s application to have CARICOM Airways operate as a foreign operator could therefore not be granted.

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