(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, greater Georgetown, Guyana) Government-owned air carriers in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have held their second meeting on how they can collaborate to provide more efficient, effective and safe transportation in the Region.
Caribbean Airlines (CAL), led by Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mr. Phillip Marshall and including its CEO (ag) Captain Jagmohan Singh and Consultant Mr. Ian Bertrand; LIAT, represented by acting CEO, Ms. Julie Reifer-Jones and Advisor, Mr. Lesroy Browne; Surinam Airways represented by Mr. Rudi Westerbord; and Bahamas Airlines, represented by Mr. Claudius Rolle, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, on Thursday met at the CARICOM Secretariat to advance discussions that began on 23 January, 2014, under the auspices of the Secretariat.
The meeting of Regional airlines preceded inaugural deliberations of the Transportation Commission which were held later on Thursday.
In light of the ongoing concerns of the travelling public and the critical role transportation plays in the Community, the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM established the Transportation Commission in September 2013. The decision was taken following a special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on Transportation which was held in May 2013, under the Chairmanship of Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Lead Head of Government for Transport in CARICOM. In approving the Terms of Reference for the Commission, the Bureau of Heads of Government endorsed a proposal from the Ministers of Transport that it would be in the best interest of the Region for the government-owned carriers in CARICOM - CAL, LIAT, Surinam Airways, and Bahamas Airlines – to collaborate on ways to provide a more efficient, reliable and affordable service to the Region.
The interaction of air carriers in January identified the procurement of equipment, training of personnel, scheduling of flights, and maintenance of aircrafts, as some of the areas where cooperation was possible. The meeting agreed that while CAL and LIAT collaborated at the technical level, interaction at the corporate level would prove useful in cementing and increasing collaboration and improving efficiencies. To this end, the acting CEOs of the two airlines met on 31 January and advanced concrete ways of collaboration in the areas identified. They shared the outcomes with their colleagues on Thursday
Thursday’s half-day session, chaired by Mr. Godfred Pompey, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Air and Seaport Development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Chairman of the Transportation Commission, put more flesh to the earlier discussions and sought to pursue further deliberations on matters including training, ground handling and arrangements for smoother transiting by the travelling public.
CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, expressed his appreciation to the airlines for so willingly making themselves available for interaction and assured them of the Secretariat’s commitment to facilitate such engagements. The field in which they operated, he told the airline representatives, was a critical component in the success of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and the development of the Community as a whole. He told the meeting that Prime Minister Gonsalves, Chair of the Conference of Heads of Government, was very encouraged by the efforts that were being pursued on the transportation front and looked forward to greater collaboration among the airlines and consequently an improvement in service to the travelling public.
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