Call for one regional air space as intra-regional travel declines

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, March 28, 2008 – The merger of regional carriers LIAT and Caribbean Star doesn’t seem to have brought all good news for intra-regional travel.

St. Lucia’s Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Senator Allen Chastanet has revealed that since the move visits across the Caribbean has declined by as much as 30 per cent.

Pointing out that travel between various regional destinations has taken big dips, he recommended that creating a single air space with a central civil aviation authority could rectify the problem, making it easier for business and leisure travel.

“Trying to establish our own civil aviation authorities is to me ludicrous. We are all using different programmes to try to do the same thing, and none of the programmes are talking to each other, so there is no efficiency,” he said as he addressed tourism officials and business executives at a Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry seminar on the topic ‘Regional Air Travel – A Deterrent to Business – How Can We Fix It’.

“Right now we are causing a monopoly to take place because we are making it so prohibitive to do business down here and we are hindering ourselves,” he added.

“We must start looking at this area as one space…We must move to one CARICOM card, one immigration card and start harmonising our systems so that we can do business better with the world, and that’s when we will start seeing efficiencies.”

The St. Lucian minister also suggested that regional governments should review their airport taxes to help reduce the cost of travel.