Posted on

Minister advised not to exempt airline from AOC requirement

Minister advised not to exempt airline from AOC requirement

Share

The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) has advised Allen Chastenet, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation in St Lucia, that he should not exempt Caricom Airways from the requirement to hold an Air Operator Certificate.{{more}}

At a meeting beween the ECCAA and a St. Lucian delegation led by Chastenet, held at ECCAA headquarters in Antigua, on December 29, 2010, matters relating to the grounding of CARICOM Airways were discussed.

At the conclusion of that meeting, Chastenet indicated his intention to temporarily exempt Caricom Airways from the requirement of an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the ECCAA, an official of the ECCAA said.

On December 20, 2010, Caricom Airlines was ordered to immediately discontinue its operations, until it has been issued with the appropriate AOC by the ECCAA.

Chastenet had said that the airline was operating under the Airline Operation Convention from Suriname, which under the CARICOM Convention, allows member countries to accept each other’s AOC.

The ECCAA said that even though CARICOM Airways had been granted an AOC from the Civil Aviation Authority of Suriname, the information available to the ECCAA indicates that CARICOM Airways’ principal place of business is St. Lucia.

“As such and by virtue of the Civil Aviation Regulations of St. Lucia, CARICOM Airways must apply for and obtain an AOC issued by the ECCAA, before commencing commercial air transport operations,” the letter from the ECCAA to Caricom Airways said.

At the December 29 meeting, it was pointed out to the St. Lucia delegation that the action by the ECCAA was lawful, pursuant to section 84 of the Civil Aviation Regulations, which permits the Director General to prohibit flight where there has been a breach of the regulations. It was pointed out to the delegation that Caricom Airways had undertaken commercial work.

According to reports, Minister Chastenet explained that, pursuant to the Civil Aviation Act, he had permitted Caricom Airways to provide services solely during the aftermath of Hurricane Tomas.

The ECCAA again explained to the St. Lucia delegation that since the principal place of business of the airline was St. Lucia, that country must, in accordance with section 53 of the Civil Aviation Regulations of St. Lucia, be the holder of an AOC issued by the ECCAA, before it can provide commercial air transportation.

The St. Lucia delegation, Searchlight understands, referred to the Multilateral Agreement concerning the Operation of Air Services within the Caribbean Community and suggested that under this agreement, Caricom Airways can operate without the required AOC. The ECCAA, in response, pointed out that the referred agreement is appropriate for the issuing of route rights and cannot remove the need for an AOC.

According to Donald McPhail, Acting Director General of the ECCAA, at the end of the meeting, MInister Chastenet said that Caricom Airways requires an AOC issued by the ECCAA on behalf of St. Lucia, but whilst the certification process was ongoing, he would exercise his powers as Minister under the Civil Aviation Act to temporarily exempt Caricom Airways from the requirement of the AOC.

The ECCAA has, however, in a letter dated December 31, advised the Minister not to exempt Caricom Airways from the requirement to hold an AOC, as this would be “contrary to the expressed provisions of Annex 6 to the Chicago Convention.”

The Minister was also advised that the exemption can have repercussions for St. Lucia and cannot be recognized internationally.

LAST NEWS