Paramaribo – Caricom leaders have agreed on a new modern multilateral air services agreement (MASA) that will allow for a new framework within which air transportation will operate in the region, St Vincent & the Grenadines (SVG) prime minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves has said.
He told the news conference marking the end of the 43rd Caricom Summit on Tuesday that countries, particularly those in the Eastern Caribbean, and even Trinidad & Tobago being severely affected by the loss of thousands of seats “because LIAT as it was is no longer before us”.
“You did not realise it while COVID-19 was on, but after COVID has receded somewhat and people are travelling again we see the problems,” Gonsalves said.
“So a discussion has taken place between the prime ministers of Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada, St Lucia, SVG, Barbados, and Guyana, and I happen to know Prime Minister (Roosevelt) Skerrit of Dominica will be involved in this.”
Gonsalves said that given St Kitts & Nevis is in “an election cycle” and was not represented at the summit that ended on Tuesday a decision was taken between those countries to address the issue of a regional air carrier of some kind.
“(It) may well be the revival of LIAT in some form or the other, but we have to get a consultant in the area of aviation to put the framework together and some numbers as a matter of urgency for us to move on,” he said.
Gonsalves said he was given responsibility to “coordinate certain things to get that going and then we get the terms of reference in order for such an exercise and to have a further conversation at the leadership level”.
Gonsalves said such a meeting could possibly take place towards the end of July in either SVG or St Lucia to advance the process in a very practical manner.