The Jamaica Observer carried a story on the 29 September 2015 – CTO wants open skies policy in the Caribbean . Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Hugh Riley called for regional authorities “to institute an Open Skies policy”.
Such a policy he posited would encourage regional carriers to fly unrestricted to all Caricom destinations, encourage growth between carriers, elimination of secondary screening leading to greater demand for regional travel.
The part of Riley’s speech delivered at the World Routes Forum 2015 in Durban that needs clarification is when he called for the amendment to the Multilateral Air Services Agreement to be finalized. Such an agreement in his view would “facilitate unlimited third, fourth, and fifth freedom of traffic rights for scheduled passenger services from and between international airports and sub-regions”. There is however the other side of Riley’s view which says an Open Skies policy would negatively impact regional carriers. Especially LIAT!
The question BU directs at Hugh Riley therefore: if American Airlines, Delta, Air Canada and other internationals are given the right of passage to island-hop through the Caribbean – stopping and picking up and carrying passengers inter-island – how will it impact regional airlines like LIAT, InselAir, Cayman Airways and others.
The airline business is highly specialized and the vagaries of servicing the Caribbean makes managing routes a challenge. One can only hope Riley’s position is informed.