Caribbean aviation is essential. That’s why he has to improve.

The importance of air transport for the Caribbean is obvious. As a result, many efforts and funds have been directed towards attempts to improve the competitiveness of air transport in the Caribbean.

  • A 2018 CBD working paper on regional air connectivity titled “Competitiveness and connectivity of air transport in the Caribbean’ describes four scenarios likely to improve intra-regional traffic demand from approximately 1.2 to 5.6 million passengers. It focused on a combination of infrastructure improvements, tax and fee reductions, and the removal of political barriers and redundancies.
  • In 2019, Ralph Blanchard, CEO of Curacao Airport Partners, made a series of strategic suggestions to improve regional connectivity, ranging from the creation of a sinking fund to support essential air services, to the more technical aspects of the harmonization of the region’s airspace into a single flight information. region to create efficiencies in air navigation.
  • In 2020, the World Bank approved a series of “Caribbean Regional Air Transport Connectivity Projects” a total of US$159 million for air transport development work in Saint Lucia, Dominica, Grenada and Haiti. The Bank’s Country Director said: “Tits series of three projects aims to increase the security and overall resilience of key connection points in the Eastern Caribbean”.

The above is only a snapshot of proposed solutions and approaches, but intra-regional transport issues have persisted with commensurate declines in intra-regional travel. Between 2012 and 2017, the CBD study showed that intra-regional travel decreased by 9%, from 3 million to 2.6 million. Demand has been further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association estimated that intra-regional travel hovered around 30% of pre-pandemic levels in 2021, resulting in losses for the region of $1 billion.

There is no doubt that as citizens of the Caribbean, we need desperate progress to meet the challenges of air transport in the region.

During one of these attempts, between the 14e– 16e June 2022, Caribbean aviation professionals and policy makers will gather in St. Maarten during the CARIBAVIA conference to share ideas and hear presentations from decision makers and opinion leaders inside and outside the Caribbean. The stated aim of the conference is to examine ways to gain ground on a variety of issues facing the region’s airline industry. So there are a variety of topics ranging from strategic approaches for destinations to engage with airlines to avoid route failures, to development pathways for business and private aviation.

Why Attempts to Address Regional Airline Competitiveness Issues Matter to All of Us

Outlets focused on the region’s air transport challenges, such as the CARIBAVIA conference, are important not so much for identifying problems, but rather for taking incremental steps towards new implementations. Conversations with anyone familiar with the region’s air transport environment end almost unanimously with a consensus around the issues. I distinctly remember an interaction with a Barbados-based executive who said it bluntly. In his words “Everyone knows the problems, what we need is someone to take the bull by the horns and put it down.. As the only Caribbean-focused aviation conference, CARIBAVIA thus far provides the only outlet for those interested in the specific challenges surrounding Caribbean aviation to come together to seek solutions – but why such companies are important.

Our reality as a region is that the impact of the shortcomings of our airline industry is neither benign nor theoretical. I believe that for small island developing States like ours, aviation is an essential pillar for the development of the region. Strategic planning and coordination of aviation growth not only supports tourism demand, but at a more global level relates to social development and trade in high-value goods and services both intra- and extra-regionally.

I sought to argue in a previous comment that tourism should be how the region uses its national industries to earn a living in the world. This creates an effective link between our exports and the ability of the global community to experience them.

To this extent, air transport becomes an essential means that supports holistic regional social development gains, as market access becomes a matter of tourism demand and export potential. The role of aviation in trade is considerable. It represents more than 35% of world trade in value.

To that end, Barbados’ efforts to expand its reach into Africa and the Middle East are exciting and highly commendable domestically. But it can also turn out to be beneficial on a larger regional scale, not only for tourism but for all the commercial outlets that tourism and therefore air transport will open up to these new markets.

Achieving these benefits at the regional level requires airlift acceptance, coordination and collaboration where strategically identified regional hubs not only serve the connectivity interests of host nations, but those of other islands. I therefore argue that the “co-opetition” of regional air transport is essential to our development, which makes it all the more necessary to solve the problems of efficiency in the intra-regional transport system.

Air transport undoubtedly has a role to play in our effective ability as a region to trade and also in propelling the socio-cultural integration that ultimately realizes our personal and collective goals and ambitions. To the 39e Meeting of the Heads of Government Conference in Jamaica, Prime Minister Mia Mottley affirmed “The single internal space for hassle-free intra-regional travel must be a starting point if we are serious about the single market and the single economy”.

At 21st globalized society and economy of the last century. Air transport is not a luxury, it is fundamental for the creation of wealth and social development; improving demand for our goods and services in the global community and; to any effort to integrate this region.

Initiatives such as the CARIBAVIA conference provide added impetus to advancing some of the innovative ideas and industry discussions that are ensuring that air travel works to our full advantage. Car at time of writing with base fares from Barbados to Miami on June 20e-24e at US$415, compared to Barbados-Antigua’s US$550, what we need more than ever is the rigorous pursuit of coordinated and strategic regional aviation strategies.

If regional travel is to rebound and if we are then to reverse the previous downward trend, and if aviation is to realize its wider development potential for our region, we need concerted regional action.

So I hope to meet you in Saint-Martin at the CARIBAVIA.

Kareem Yarde is a young greedy promoter of the development potential of tourism and air transport. He can be reached at [email protected].

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