St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet announced that he is moving to establish Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines as the national carrier of his country.
Speaking in a televised news conference on Monday, the Prime Minister said that given the numerous issues that the region is facing with regards to air transport, Caribbean Airlines may be the best option if it were to serve as St. Lucia’s national carrier.
“This means that Caribbean Airlines would now be able to fly between St. Lucia and Barbados and Trinidad and even go to Puerto Rico and other places,” he told reporters.
A critic of regional airline LIAT, Chastanet said that the Antigua-based carrier cannot solve all of the transportation needs of the region, and he would not provide any financial assistance to the cash-strapped airline until it is restructured.
Chastanet was also critical of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) saying that it has been reluctant to allow other airlines to operate within the sub-region.
“I would like to move our Civil Aviation Authority away from ECCAA,” Chastanet said, adding that he is convinced that ECCAA cannot be fixed and is an impediment to competition in the region.
The Prime Minister believes that moving the country’s aviation administration to Trinidad will encourage other people to be able to open up an airline in Saint Lucia or in some of the other islands.
In a response from Caribbean Airlines, head of corporate communications Dionne Ligoure said: “Caribbean Airlines currently offers daily service to St Lucia. We welcome the sentiments expressed by the Honourable Prime Minister of St Lucia. Last weekend, Caribbean Airlines emerged as the ‘Caribbean’s Leading Airline’ at the 23rd annual World Travel Awards 2016 for the sixth consecutive year. This award affirms that we are giving our customers the value they demand and provides a good foundation, as Caribbean Airlines moves to achieve our vision of being the preferred airline serving the Caribbean.”
Ligoure added “Caribbean Airlines is committed to the development of the region. We work closely with stakeholders to deliver the air transport that is needed, while fulfilling the mandate of our shareholders as well as our mandate to constantly improve our service delivery, by responding to the ever changing needs of travellers and within the constraints of our current resource base.