ROSEAU, Dominica, June 14, (CMC) – A three-day meeting, aimed at improving airlift in the Caribbean, began here, on Tuesday, with Tourism Minister, Robert Tonge, defending the decision of the government to acquire shares in the debt-troubled regional airline, LIAT.
Tonge told the inaugural meeting of the Caribbean Aviation Meet-Up that becoming a shareholder of LIAT had been identified by the Roosevelt Skerrit administration as one of the strategies to address the issue of air access into Dominica.
He said the regional carrier had, in the past few weeks, improved its services to Dominica.
“As many of you may know, we had negotiations with LIAT recently, and I must say, it has gotten better, to the point that I was able to travel just recently, very easily, and LIAT was on time… a couple months ago this was totally impossible,” he said.
The Ministry of Tourism and Urban Renewal and Discover Dominica Authority, the main organisers of the three-day event, said it provides an opportunity for discussions among professionals on regional airlines, routes development, airport development and trends in regional travel.
They said those invited to make presentations at the conference have a wealth of knowledge in their areas of expertise, and participants will be encouraged to share perspectives, ideas and concerns on the sector.
The conference is also expected to lead to the inauguration of a Caribbean Aviation Industry Association and will be known as CaribAviar and will be an umbrella organisation representing all aviation interest in the Caribbean region.
Tonge said hosting of the meeting here comes at an opportune time.
“We are, nonetheless, challenged on the issue of access to the destination, this is why we are all here today. It is therefore most appropriate that this Caribbean Aviation conference is being held here in Dominica. The Ministry of Tourism and Urban Renewal is leading the charge to address this issue of access, particularly air access into Dominica.
“This continues to be a perplexing topic but, I am hoping, after this session, that we will have a clear way forward in terms of dealing with this issue. The government has taken a stake in the ownership of LIAT as one initiative,” he said, adding “we continue to implement other strategies of partnerships”.
He said while the island would make progress, there is also the recognition to be “involved in the continuous improvement cycle…to improve air transportation in the region and benefit our economies and communities…”.
He said the Caribbean Aviation Meet Up aims to “cement dedication, devotion and passion of professionals with diverse backgrounds in (the) aviation and hospitality industries.
“We know that no one can do things alone, but with a strong commitment to cooperation, and unified effort, we will make greater strides, and remarkable achievements,” he added.