Saint Lucia is not too happy with the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) and may pull out as a member should their dissatisfaction persist.
The threat to pull out of ECCAA has been on the table for some time now and could very well happen now as government’s frustration with the sub-regional body’s apparent refusal to accede to requests from the Government of Saint Lucia regarding aircraft licenses mounts.
Civil Aviation Minister Guy Joseph told reporters this week that government continues to have challenges with ECCAA in acquiring those licenses even as the number of airlines interested in operating in the region continues to grow.
“Some time ago Saint Lucia had made the pronouncement that if it could not get matters rectified through ECCAA, Saint Lucia would consider pulling out of ECCAA and align itself to another agency that would offer the same service. We have not ruled this off the table completely but we are working as best as we can with ECCAA to resolve this matter,” Joseph said.
Joseph made mention of other islands having multiple airline licenses on some occasions yet Saint Lucia had difficulty in getting a license to operate an airline with a number of issues being raised.
“We do not intend to continue to be held hostage at that level if this matter is not being addressed,” Joseph said , adding that if this continues “then the Government of Saint Lucia will be forced to act on its own behalf to take the necessary steps to address the concerns that we have.”
The Civil Aviation Minister said quite a few stakeholders had shown interest in operating in Saint Lucia with several of them coming to his office highlighting the challenges and difficulties they faced in getting a basic license out of ECCAA.
“If an American based airline wants to operate in Saint Lucia, they would need certified TSA persons to do their baggage handling and things of that nature and that is one of the problems we have at the George F.L. Charles Airport that we at the Civil Aviation Department are trying to rectify,” Joseph said.
Minister Joseph said there was one airline providing services to St Croix, but because of the challenges that airline faced it was forced to cease operations. However, the airline recently recommenced operations, and the Government of Saint Lucia is in discussions with it to get a 40-seater to run between Saint Lucia and Jamaica. In order to do so, government will first need to acquire licensing from the ECCAA.
“That is what we are working on getting the requisite license to be able to deal with,” Joseph said.