Chatanet: Probe into aviation body
St Lucia’s Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet has called for a probe into the conduct of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) in dealing with attempts by Caricom Airways to get permission to operate a passenger service into the sub-region.
Chastanet has been in a battle with the Authority over an air-operating certificate to allow the carrier to fly to routes in the Eastern Caribbean.
“I am going to be requesting for an investigation to be carried out into the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority’s handling of the Caricom Airways matter, as I am convinced that every effort has been made to ensure that the carrier does not take to the skies in direct competition with other regional carriers,” he said
The issue sparked a row with Vincentian authorities and in December 2010 the Castries based airline which carries an air operating license from Suriname was grounded by ECCAA which claimed that it was operating illegally within the Caribbean.
Chastanet told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that there is a misconception about the role of the ECCAA in the regional civil aviation sector.
“ECCAA is a functional corporation agency, meaning that the sub-regional governments share payment of the staff but individuals report to each country separately, so they are the Civil Aviation Authority for St. Lucia as well as the Civil Aviation Authority for St. Vincent, but they cannot speak as a regional body,” Chastanet said.
“They are our Civil Aviation Authority and I have to tell you that I am extremely disappointed in the manner in which ECCAA has handled this situation, so we are going to be asking for an investigation in terms of how ECCAA has dealt with this matter. This has not been a way to do business.”
Minister Chastanet explained that Caricom Airways has been designated a flag carrier of St. Lucia under the Community of Interest Ruling adding that ECCAA and other countries in the region have been notified of the designation and his government is currently awaiting correspondence from the Civil Aviation Authority.
“We are proceeding with efforts to get Caricom Airways flying so I expect that they will be making an announcement shortly about commencing a service between St. Lucia and Dominica, and given the new carrier’s flag status they may apply to several of the other destinations for permission to operate there.The airline will be starting off with Dominica, and applications will go in for travel to St. Vincent, Grenada, and Martinique,” he said. (CMC)