‘Matter of urgency’ – Guyana, other CARICOM countries pushing new regional air carrier

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Guyana and other member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will urgently advance fresh talks on the establishment of a new regional air carrier, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves has said.

A regional airline is viewed as a much-needed mechanism to aid the free movement of people with CARICOM, moreso given the collapse of LIAT.

With revitalised efforts to facilitate the free movement of people within CARICOM, particularly since the region hopes to rebound from devastation wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Gonsalves said that the establishment of this new regional carrier is a “matter of urgency”.

And it was noted that the leaders of Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Barbados, Dominica and Guyana will be leading the discussions on the new air carrier.

“We have taken a decision between those countries on the margins that we are going to address the issue of a regional air carrier of some kind.

“It may well be the revival of LIAT in some form or the other,” the Prime Minister said at a CARICOM press conference on Tuesday night.

From left: Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves, President of Suriname and incumbent CARICOM Chariman Chandrikapersad Santokhi and CARICOM Secretary- General Dr. Carla Barnett (Photo: News Room/ July 5, 2022)

The Prime Minister, however, noted that an aviation consultant will be needed to help the leaders establish a framework for the establishment of the new regional air carrier.

“… but it has to be done quickly,” he added.

This decision to advance talks on the regional air carrier comes just days after the Prime Minister of St. Lucia Philip Pierre said that a regional airline- be it LIAT or a fresh airline– is needed to facilitate free movement in the Caribbean.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gonsalves also highlighted that there are two proposals for new inter-country ferries, to allow for the speedier transport of goods. One proposal has been presented by Trinidad and Tobago, and the other from Guyana and Barbados.

“A mechanism has been put in place to work out these arrangements to see how we can work out either these arrangements or blend them perfectly,” Prime Minister Gonsalves stated.

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