Airlines to hold talks with Trinidad government on reopening

Caribbean Airlines

INTERNATIONAL Air Transport Association (IATA) Caribbean area manager Annaleen Lord says the association is awaiting the outcome of upcoming talks between TT aviation representatives and government officials.

She was speaking on Tuesday during IATA’s Latin America and Caribbean Press Call.

She said after the election there was a spike in covid19 community spread.

“And I know they are closely monitoring the situation before deciding to reopen their borders.”

She also reported the local aviation industry is to hold discussions with Government this week.

“After we received that update from the local carriers in that market we will make a decision internally on how we approach the Government regarding the reopening in Trinidad.”

She said of the other islands in the Caribbean region, most are open, but some, like Grenada, have not reopened to the US, which is considered high-risk for covid19.

“Because they are also managing those risks internally in order to protect their community, their citizens and their borders as well. So we are in touch with them…(and) we have our finger on the pulse. And as needed we will go to those governments as well to get an update on when they plan to reopen.”

IATA regional vice president for the Americas Peter Cerda said in the Caribbean many countries have already opened borders and have been welcoming visitors, while some remain closed off or with very rigid restrictions on international travel.

“However, what we need to make sure in the Caribbean that the protocols…are in place (and) we need to have a better understanding from governments how they plan to open in the near future so we can begin again to restore confidence in the sector and help in the recovery of these countries.”

He said the “patchwork” of different scenarios across the Latin America and Caribbean region continued and this did not make the necessary restart and demand situation any easier. He added IATA continued to call on governments to implement the protocols put in place by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, which would provide the guidance necessary for a safe restart.

Cerda said IATA also called on governments to speak with country neighbours on the issue of reopening borders.

“The co-ordination amongst government to government is critical. It doesn’t serve us if we open one country, but we cannot obtain air services to other countries.”

Cerda reiterated aviation in Latin America and the Caribbean accounts for 7.2 billion jobs and contributes about US$167 billion to regional GDP pre-covid. For the month of July there was decline of 87.5 per cent in passenger kilometres in Latin America and the Caribbean compared to 2019. For regional carriers in Latin America the drop was a massive 95 per cent compared to 2019.

“With these numbers in mind, it should not come as a surprise that we have seen more than 4.1 million jobs and roughly US$98 billion in GDP supported by the industry and tourism at risk in this region. And (that is) why we have been renewing our call for governments to engage in a constructive dialogue with the industry in order to agree on a suitable path that will allow us to spread our wings once again, and let aviation not only help travel and tourism recover in our region but also help our governments in this region recover from a social and economic standpoint.”

He said aviation has acted responsibly and has devised necessary safety protocols which has permitted the industry to operate safely without becoming a vector for propagating the virus.

“And this is so around the world, from Asia to Europe to North America.”

Trinidad Newsday

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