Collective approach needed to maintain aviation standards in CARICOM – Min Edghill
─ 26th CASSOS Meeting opens in Georgetown
Minister of Public Works, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill opened the 26th Board of Directors Meeting of the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System (CASSOS) at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown. This was the first in-person meeting for the regional aviation oversight body since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted by countries around the world.
Addressing the members of the Board and other attendees, Minister Edghill underscored the importance of aviation to the economies of member states within CARICOM and called for a collective approach to be taken, to strengthen the region’s aviation sector, since many countries and islands’ tourism sectors depend on this.
“We have to be able to appreciate how dependent we are on each other for the success of us all, and we have to be able to understand that when one succeeds, we all succeed, and when one fails, we all fail,” Minister Edghill asserted.
CASSOS, which was formally launched in February 2009 at the CARICOM Secretariat here in Guyana, is tasked with coordinating, establishing infrastructure, and implementing development programmes aimed at the standardisation of regional safety in areas such as licensing, aviation security, certification, inspection, and surveillance.
Drawing attention to the advancement of tourism in the region, the Minister noted that countries who depend on their tourism sectors as a main income earner would also need the aviation sector to be on par with international principles, therefore the need for the regional sector to be periodically evaluated and brought up to standard.
Further, he noted there is no need or room for competition among the regional grouping.
“Big brother and main island, small island conversations, there is no need for that, what there is need for is a collective approach to ensure the standards of aviation in the CARICOM region, in the Caribbean is the highest it has ever been because we must be able to sell our product which is necessary for the sustainability of a lot of our economies in the international market.”
Minister Edghill said what needs to be marketed always, is the fact that this region has the best hotels and best beaches, and the safety of tourists is guaranteed.
“As policymakers, we have to be able to tell people when you board flights and you’re coming to the Caribbean, you are doing inter-Caribbean travel, you are in a region where safety has a very high record and you have nothing to fear about it. This can even bring down your cost of insurance, and once you can bring down the cost of their travel insurance you have more money to spend in areas.”
The Minister also noted that aviation will play a key role in helping CARICOM achieve its goal of reducing its food import bill by 25 per cent by 2025. “Reducing the food import bill requires greater connectivity, collaboration, and safety in the movement because the probability increases as we increase traffic.”
He encouraged the group to find ways to collaborate in all areas including climate change, food security, and aviation safety. “I want to say to CASSOS at this opening session, let us use all our strength for the development of the Caribbean Region, and let aviation continue to be safe and secure, and let us provide a service second to none so that this Region would be known for what we do.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman of CASSOS and Director General of Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority, Mr. Nari Williams-Singh received an award on behalf of Jamaica for its successful election to the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for the period 2022-2025. Minister Edghill presented the award while congratulating Jamaica on its achievement.
Additionally, a posthumous award was given to the widow of the late Captain Malcolm Chan-A-Sue, A.A., M.S, for his work in the field of aviation in Guyana and the Caribbean Region for over 50 years. Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Egbert Field, A.A., presented the award to Mrs. Margaret Chan-A-Sue on behalf of CASSOS.
The 26th Meeting of the Board of Directors of CASSOS will end on April 20, 2023.