By Theresa Goodwin
The process by which an airline applies and for and is granted regulatory approval through the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCA) will be expedited for at least three of the six carriers that are seeking to expand their networks with the recent demise of regional carrier LIAT.
ECCA’s Director General Donald McPhail gave that assurance Thursday night while participating in regional webinar hosted by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.
He acknowledged that the process to grant an Air Operators Certification, from establishment to certification, could take up to six months for operators registered with ECCA — a process which many have complained about.
In the case of InterCAribbean Airways and Caribbean Airlines, two of the airlines bidding for routes previously owned by LIAT, he explained the process will be shortened significantly.
“It will take just a matter of weeks or days. These are established airlines which already hold an Air Operators Certification issued by their state of registry. Whenever one such regulatory should apply for commercial rights the air transport licensing board in that state would consult ECCA on the technical aspect of the airline,” McPhail said.
He further explained that technical assessment of the airline is also done building on information received from the state in which the airline is registered and operating, once the requirements of ECCA are met a communication is then sent back to the respective state to indicate that the airline can operate within the region.
“The assessment also depends on the size of the operator, types of aircraft, the company within the region. At times you may have difficulty and we may have to consult with other agencies,” the ECCA director general said.
Creditors will, on July 31, have their say on whether or not the carrier should be liquidated at a meeting scheduled to take place here.
In a letter dated July 16 and signed by LIAT’s company secretary, creditors were informed that the meeting was being held to consider the winding up of the company.
Meanwhile, there is strong backing for the proposal by Prime Minister Gaston Browne to create a new entity as opposed to liquidating the Antigua based carrier. Browne has maintained that liquidation is not the best option as it would be detrimental for Antigua which employs most of LIAT’s workforce.
Former chairman of LIAT group of trade unions, Senator Chester Humphrey of Grenada, told regional media he is in full support of the initiative and encourages others to do the same.
“I support the initiative of LIAT 2020. I think while significant difficulties face this endeavour, I really think it is the way to go. Having said that, some very profound and real in-depth re-organizational changes of LIAT must occur if this effort is to bear fruit.”
He added, “I cannot imagine a modern economy in the Caribbean served by a plethora of small mini-buses because that is essentially what is being proposed to replace LIAT.”