Evans shoots down aviation “super body”

A study commissioned by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has recommended the creation of an Air Transport Reform Authority to address longer-term strategic issues at the regional level.

Speaking at the CDB’s 45th Annual Board of Governors’ Meeting in St Kitts & Nevis yesterday, Evans sounded less than optimistic about the authority, which will consist of 15 members.

He said, “If there are 15 experts out there in the Caricom region, can I please have their names so I could employ them?”

Evans told the discussion on “Making Air Transport Work Better In the Caribbean” that while airlines needed to improve their corporate governance “that is not something that needs to be overseen by some sort of super body.”

“I am not convinced,” he said, adding that while the concept of an air transport reform authority was not a bad one, “I’m not sure how you would convert that into practice.”

The LIAT CEO said several similar structures already existed in the Caribbean and it may just be a case of re-energizing them.

“I think that’s where you need expertise in terms of resources and that’s where you need funding as well. Let’s not re-invent the wheel; we have the basic structures. I just don’t think they work very well for us at the moment,” he told the gathering.

According to the study conducted during the last quarter of 2014 and March 2015, the Air Transport Reform Authority is envisaged as an aviation “super-body” within Caricom, and supported by the Caricom Secretariat, but deriving its powers from the Heads to whom they report directly.

The overarching recommendation is for greater co-operation among regional governments and carriers and with other foreign airlines and a harmonising of administrative and regulatory policy and operations.

The study looked at the history and present make-up of the regional air transportation industry and, in particular, the performance of the state-owned airlines: Caribbean Airlines; Air Jamaica; LIAT; Surinam Airways; Bahamasair; and Cayman Airways.

Other recommendations include, reforming the governance structure of airlines, greater use of hubbing to lower unit costs and increase connectivity and consideration of unbundling ticket prices to provide passengers with greater choice, among other items.

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