PM Says FAA Downgrade Could Have Been Avoided

Prime Minister Gaston Browne (file photo).

Chairman of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne has described as “a very unfortunate development,” the recent US FAA downgrade of the Eastern Caribbean Aviation system.

On Friday the Federal Aviation Administration said it had downgraded the safety rating for the OECS, a move that means carriers from those island nations cannot start new service.

The “Category 2” rating covers Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, as well as St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“I believe that it could have been avoided, and we knew that there was a deadline. I believe the deadline was the end of February in which all of the countries of the OECS, the six independent countries had to make certain regulatory changes in order to be fully compliant,” Browne said Saturday on Pointe FM’s Browne & Browne show.

“I would have spent an enormous amount of time urging my colleague in the other countries to ensure that they pass the regulations on a timely basis. I know Minister [Robin] Yearwood as well, at the ministerial level, would have spent a significant amount of time asking them to do so.

“And even in February we had an OECS authority meeting and the first issue on the agenda was that very issue about civil aviation and the Civil Aviation Authority — the things that they need to do quickly to avoid any form of sanctions,” Browne added.

Antigua and Barbuda has been fully compliant

The Antigua and Barbuda leader said he wanted people to know that his country was not among the negligent ones.

“I have to make it abundantly clear that Antigua and Barbuda has been fully compliant, but it is a group situation in which it is the OECS region that enjoys the Category 1 status. So, it means that if any single country falls afoul of the regulations, then obviously it has implications for all of us,” Browne said.

“And that is why we spent a lot of time encouraging all of the countries within the OECS to move quickly, to move with alacrity to pass the necessary regulations to avoid the downgrading, which perhaps several of them took for granted, which we are now faced with.”

OECS Chairman calls emergency meeting

Browne said that in his capacity as Chairman of the OECS, he has called an emergency meeting today [Sunday], “so that we can look at the issues again, the granular details as to where there are gaps in our compliance, and to move quickly to resolve them with the hope that we can restore the Category 1 as soon as possible.

In downgrading the OECS, the FAA said the group did not comply with international safety standards.

Category 2 rating means that laws or regulations lack the necessary requirements to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that civil aviation authorities are deficient in one or more areas, including technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, inspection procedures or resolution of safety concerns.

The OECS carriers can continue existing service to the United States.

LIAT can continue flying to US territories

“Luckily for us though, they didn’t take any decision, for example, that LIAT, which is the sub-regional airline and regional airline for that matter, that LIAT cannot continue to fly within US territories to include the US Virgin Islands,” Browne said.

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  1. Again, rising above the political fray, it’s not fair, to get screwed because, of others neglect(s). Even without COVID-19, everyone, are aware of the power which the American markets, to the Caribbean, and how the American regulators use their power(s), over their markets, to control and even dictate, at times what goes on, in her backyard.

    When American businesses sneezes, businesses in the Caribbean catches, The Flu….

  2. But go ahead and rename Boggy Peak after yankee instead of calling it Mount Mandela, Marley, Garvey or L’overture. E mek sense.

      • I agree that our highest mountain peak should be name after our own people not outsiders. Them outside don’t know how we here in Antigua struggled to be where are for today.

      • Nope! No! No! Enuff Bird’s flying around scavenging, and pooping on the island!

        We need some KLASS…
        The kind of Class, that can restore some dignity, to Our Past, build Our Present, as the Nation forge, into the Future!

        KLASS MOUNTAIN…the Nation is in need, of his Spirit to guide, a new MENTAL REVOLUTION, in this dispensation!

      • It was renamed because it was he was the first black president of the USA. What relevance does that have here ? Those people we in line before Obama. Try opening a book once in a while.

    • Why the hell should we named Boggy Peak for anyone but a National of Antigua and Barbuda.Like Mount Tim Hector or for a Teacher and or Gutter Sweeper. Mandela,Garvey,L’overture should all have things named for them in their own countries,not inna Antigua and Barbuda.Are you love foreigners more than are you own.

      • The point is, it IS named after a Foreigner simply because he was the first “Black” US president. He never came to the dedication of it’s renaming. Just a total lunatic renamed it after being caught up in the hype of US elections.

  3. Leadership matters.

    It is the chairman’s responsibility to ensure that all countries are compliant.

    The chairman failed to perform adequately in this regard.

    The chairman must take responsibility for not ensuring that all the OECS countries were compliant.

    The buck stops with the chairman. Leadership do matters.

  4. Our union needs to be stronger. I gather for the likes of Chastanet this was not urgent since it impacted LIAT’s ability to grow. It was also part of the reason why LIAT should not be headquartered in Barbados, since BDS has been rated by the same body at level 2 since at least 2011. PM, you are the OECS chairman, lets get this fixed

    • Chastanet is NOT a regionalist. He keeps on proving that he doesn’t give 2 shit about regional integration. He is a sellout and puppet. Just follow his strings to see who controls him.

  5. I think a quarterly internal audit should be carried out on our Aviation system and operation procedures to make sure that we are keeping up with the international and FAA standards. If we are using ISO Procedures or whatever procedures, we have to make sure that they’re up to date and we are following those procedures. We need the Americans aviation business so we just have to comply.

  6. LIAT’s ability to grow. What a joke. LIAT at we know it is nothing more than a cesspool of corruptions.It is digging the travelers eyes out with fees.A person could fly from Austin,Texas to Antigua round trip.And pay less than a person flying LIAT from Antigua to St.Kitts round trip.What is wrong with that picture.I have experienced that,greedy bastards.

    • @Tuna-Yes you can because that flight is subsided via minimum revenue guarantees. Interestingly when Liat asked for the same treatment, is it told no by some of the same oecs islands who give the same to intl airlines. Liat unfortunately has to pass on the losses from its uneconomic route to other passengers. The refusal to treat Liat like the others, reminds of self hate.Then again the leadership in the island most shouting no, will remind, he is not of African ancestry

  7. Did a little search and guest what, what happened in St Kitts happens at VCB Airport also.

  8. Nope! No! No! Enuff Bird’s flying around scavenging, and pooping on the island!

    We need some KLASS…
    The kind of Class, that can restore some dignity, to Our Past, build Our Present, as the Nation forge, into the Future!

    KLASS MOUNTAIN…the Nation is in need, of his Spirit to guide, a new MENTAL REVOLUTION, in this dispensation!

  9. “Alacrity” means, eagerness, joyful willingness, or readiness. What is wrong with using simple language that ordinary folks can understand Mr. PM?

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