Jamaica Observer- FORMER minister of tourism and civil aviation in Barbados, Noel Lynch, has called for a single airline to serve the needs of the Caribbean region.
He said despite the view that ownership and management of airlines should be left up to the global markets, state-run carriers have performed relatively better than private airlines in the region.
"One Caribbean airline that leverages the resources and expertise in most of our countries, coupled with a combination of successful home-grown qualities, is in my opinion still the best model in the air transport sector in the region," Lynch said on Thursday evening.
Speaking at a seminar entitled 'Air Travel in the Caribbean: Challenges and Opportunities' at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Lynch argued that regional airlines have served the region better in terms of their longevity and for the development of the hospitality industry than foreign-owned carriers.
With the Caribbean more dependent on tourism than any other region in the world, the former tourism minister warned against judging the performance of airlines only on their profitability.
"We cannot judge the performance of our carriers simply by the colour of the ink on their balance sheet," he said
He said competition by itself would not necessarily serve the interest of the people, as airlines cherry-pick the most lucrative routes leaving other areas underserved.
Also speaking at the seminar, Minister of Transport and Works Mike Henry disclosed that the project to build the country's fourth international airport at Vernamfield in Clarendon is currently with the Cabinet's Economic Development Committee.
He said a longer runway than those at the existing airports was needed at Vernamfield to accommodate the Airbus A380, which is the world's largest passenger plane, or the Anotov, the largest cargo plane.
Henry said he is scheduled to meet next month with the transport ministers of both Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados to discuss "integrating air transport in the Caribbean to make it more economically viable and speedily attainable".