Written by 8:40 am Travel

Cummins suggests private-public sector partnership to create regional airline

Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins has suggested that the Singapore Airlines model be emulated to create a regional carrier and that a private-public sector partnership be used to fund it.

She said during Monday’s Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) first Visit Barbados Industry Forum on the Hilton Hotel, that, within the absence of a national carrier, because the island works on constructing out an aviation centre of excellence, a regional airline is required that’s capable of service all Caribbean destinations after which extend its services throughout the globe.

Cummins, who called for a “high-level” aviation industry, explained that Singapore Airlines began servicing two countries in Asia before eventually expanding its routes to international destinations.

“They were capable of launch a dedicated regional service called SilkAir, which built on the international brand which dominated the regional market.

“The Caribbean needs new innovation and it needs new investment to have the option to expand on its capability not only intra regionally, but I would like us to think big,” the Tourism Minister said.

She expressed concern concerning the blow to regional travel from the restructuring of LIAT two years ago, as she stressed the necessity for a public-private partnership solution to fill the void.

“Actually within the last two years, with the lack of LIAT, we’ve got seen significant challenges within the region. I philosophically have an issue, and I actually have at all times had an issue, with the thought of travelling outside of my region with a purpose to have the option to travel inside,” Cummins said.

“We’ve also seen that other airlines have come to the table, they’re all private sector led, but have they got the capability as yet to fill the void left by regional carrier LIAT? We’ve Caribbean Airlines. What will we require as a region to carve an area out for ourselves within the aviation space?”

LIAT was restructured in March 2020, leading to employees being placed on the breadline and the airline’s services significantly reduced.

“Is that point right away where the private sector and the general public sector and academia can come together to create the aviation sector of the longer term?” Minister Cummins questioned, suggesting that such an answer would involve “private sector capitalisation, government injection of funds, regulatory management and transformation, and the event of an educational partnership with tertiary level institutions to create the abilities and the job for the longer term”.

As recently as Sunday, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves announced that he had a plan in mind for regional travel.

Gonsalves, who served as chairman of LIAT’s stakeholder governments, didn’t disclose details of his plans. Nonetheless, he said he faced opposition from regional stakeholders who are actually calling for the revival of the airline, owned by his government, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and Dominica.

Recently, regional entertainers took to social media to vent their frustration concerning the challenges they’ve been experiencing travelling throughout the region on account of LIAT’s limited service. [email protected]

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