Antigua, OECS take decisions aimed at restoring ECCAA’s category 1 rating

VC Bird International airport


OECS Heads of Government, including Dominica, have agreed on several decisions to reclassify the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) to its category 1 rating.

The decision was taken following a special meeting held last week chaired by Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister, Gaston Browne.

The meeting was held following a decision by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US, to downgrade the authority yet again because “it does not comply with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards”.

The authority has, however, denied claims that its policies call into question the safety and security of the region’s airports and airlines and said that the outstanding matters are regulatory issues which heads of government seemed keen on rectifying in the shortest time.

Of the fourteen (14) key recommendations outlined by the FAA, the ECCAA said it had been able to quickly address and implement eleven (11) of the suggested adjustments.

The authority said in a press statement that the remaining three (3) suggestions required legislative changes from each Member State and, although underway, were not yet completed at the time of this recent assessment.

It also noted that this change in status will not affect the day-to-day running of regional airports and airlines.

The Meeting took several more decisions that addressed areas such as Sustainable Financing of the ECCAA, Resolution of Outstanding Regulatory Matters, Administrative and Operational Strengthening of the ECCAA and joint Strategic Diplomatic Outreach.

The amendment of legislation that empowers the ECCAA Director-General to develop, issue, and revise operating regulations were among the top recommendations made.

The Meeting mandated that the OECS Commission serve as the implementing body on these matters to ensure that resolution is timely and Heads are continuously informed on the progress.

Member States to the ECCAA have also agreed to settle all arrears to the institution and to keep payments current.

Heads of Government considered the recommendation to adopt the payment model of Antigua and Barbuda by dedicating assignment of airport or other fees towards subvention payments.

The Authority has also agreed to the implementation of a diplomatic démarche in Washington to ensure an ongoing dialogue with the FAA and to facilitate a deeper understanding of the nuances within the organisation.

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  1. Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock! “Most of these problems, if not all of them, have been the subject of regional studies, regional resolutions, regional declarations and regional decisions over the years. We know what needs to be done to diversify the economies, to reduce vulnerability, to increase resilience, to promote production integration, to foster innovation, to reduce food and energy dependency. I do not have time to list them all.” – Norman Girvan, From Independence To Globalised Colonialism, JUNE 5, 2011!

    “Member States to the ECCAA have also agreed to settle all arrears to the institution and to keep payments current. // Heads of Government considered the recommendation to adopt the payment model of Antigua and Barbuda by dedicating assignment of airport or other fees towards subvention payments.” – ANR 5/19/20!

    Did it take an unnecessary crisis by the North Atlantics to confirm that the solution had already been, created, implemented within the OECS! Where are the OECS Champions and Change Agents charged with employing Best Practices and Quality Management Excellence Models!

    That is a financial model and accounting practice which should have been obvious to all concerned! Sadly, the OECS continues with high Air Transportation Fees and Taxes and those incompetent administrations will not be taken to task!

    This is clearly a political and socio-cultural sickness or to be more charitable a “small island malaise” with a resultant institutional stagnation ably propped up by poor regional governance strategies, structures, systems, skills and culture!

    Some will say that this FAA setback is not an ‘existential threat and should be treated as such! On Wall Street, an Antiguan friend would remind me that when the DOW was falling it was only a sign that the Big Boys wee “taking their Profits!” As the OECS is a subset of Caribbean Society, given the expected fall out from climate change, the present turmoil in the hospitality, tourism and yachting industry, food security, air transportation, international drug trafficking and money laundering and many more it seems that the only time the bell is rung for a “come to Jesus moment” is when, the North Atlantics exert neo-colonial might!

    Have Mercy Pon Us!

    In this the International Decade For people of African Descent 2015 -2024 with “Covid & Rona” running wantonly about, spreading fear, calamities, death and destruction of economies, this is the time for creating a “Bubble” over the OECS and bringing about major transformation! Just a thought – given how well the OECS has handled the outbreak of “Covid & Rona” why is the OECS not using a Pilot Period of opening their borders to each other before inviting the North Atlantics who’s case loads are so horrendous! No longer “tinkering’ around the off ramps of the Eastern Caribbean Highway, but Redesign, Reengineer, Restructure and Realign the OECS Integration Imperative!

    The 2008-2010 Global Banking and Financial meltdown was a squandered catalyst!

    This new Global Economic downturn resulting from the 2019 Pandemic must be the opportunity to urgently and nimbly action what the OECS has been unable to do since the Colonials ceded overt control.

    Sadly, Norman Girvan sums up the tragedy with this: “Our problem is not lack of thinking, lack of technical and analytical work, or even lack of formal decisions. Our problem is, and has always been, lack of implementation due to obsession with the trappings of insular sovereignty. // At the root of CARICOM’s (hence the OECS) “implementation deficit” problem is the impossibility of reconciling insular sovereignty, as a legal construct with effective regional action, as an operational necessity.”

    Nuff Said

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