Objective of CTO-ATF
To encourage, champion and inform the facilitation of air transportation into and throughout the Caribbean with particular emphasis on the member-countries of the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
Since its formation in November 2012, the CTO-Aviation Task Force (CTO-ATF) has become an important resource for Caribbean aviation and a catalyst for change in the industry. The CTO-ATF is officially recognized regionally. The Task Force continues to have an important role in effecting change in Caribbean air transport, towards improving the tourism performance of the CTO’s member-countries.
Composition of CTO-ATF
- Airport Authorities
The CTO-ATF accepts that air access is integral to the archipelago’s tourism growth and there is a need to increase access to the international & regional markets, increase economic benefits generated by growth and development of tourism and improve the region’s competitive position in the market place.
The CTO-ATF’s tasks include safety & security, legal & regulatory, economics and ensuring customer satisfaction for the traveler.
- Examine volume and potential of air service into and within the Caribbean
- Implement strategies for increasing intra-Caribbean tourism
- Review status of regulations governing air transportation
- Keep all relevant parties engaged
- Influence change
- Improve the experience for passengers throughout the region
- Remove barriers to cooperation between carriers, regulators, airport authorities, Customs, Immigration, Security and other entities
- Review aviation taxation and related fees, duties and levies and make recommendations as needed
Issues affecting the ease of passenger movement
- Inefficient passenger and baggage security screening arrangements
- Entry visa restrictions; many jurisdictions
- Poor quality of some airport facilities
- Weak customer focus of airport management systems
- Lack of code shares and interline arrangements
- Limited acceptance of Open Skies policies
Issues impacting the cost of intra-regional travel
- Regulatory issues and entry requirements for new airlines
- Poor collaboration among regional airlines
- Absence of a single airspace and/or open skies agreements
- Increasing Government taxes and fees
- High operating costs
- Inefficiencies and weak economies of scale for small airlines
- High wear and tear and outdated equipment on some routes
Issues affecting economic impact
- Failure to adequately access n on-traditional neighboring markets
- Reduction of airlift capacity into some major Caribbean hubs
- High dependency of many local hotels on intra-regional market
- Weak integration of aviation considerations with tourism opportunities
- Poor marketing of travel opportunities regionally
- Financially struggling airlines sometimes not paying their bills to airport authorities
- Declines and moderate growth in passenger arrivals
Specific actions to date
- Detailed presentations to regional policy makers and aviation personnel.
- Made technical input to the revision of the CARICOM Multi-Lateral Air Services Agreement.
- Hosted technical meetings to collate expert opinion from top aviation personnel on regional issues.
- Enhanced relationships with other regional and subregional bodies including ALTA, ACS and OECS.
- Interceded to help resolve operational aviation issues involving charters.
- Provided expertise and representation at key aviation events.
- Collaborated on ALTA’s Caribbean Aviation Day during ALTA Airline Leaders Forum in Cancun, Mexico.
- Moderated critical regional aviation panel during CTO’s State of the Industry Conference, Martinique.
- Created airline negotiation guidelines and related procedures for CTO member-countries.
- Drafted a proposed new common Embarkation/Disembarkation card for CARICOM member-countries.
- Created ATF newsletter for distribution to regional stakeholders.The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has formed a highly focused Aviation Committee to facilitate air transportation into and throughout the Caribbean and to enhance airlift. Particular emphasis will be placed on CTO member-countries.
- A Guide To Destination Airline Negotiations – Brochure prepared by CTO Aviation Task Force (April 2016)
- An Introduction to Destination Airline Negotiations – Key Considerations – Prepared by CTO Aviation Task Force (Jan. 2016)
- San Juan Accord: Memorandum on the Regional Air Transport Sector – Looking for a Better Way (San Juan, Puerto Rico, October 2007)
- A Proposed Policy Regime for Ensuring the Sustainability of the Caribbean’s Air Transport Services Sector – Prepared by the CTO under the Research Component of The Caribbean Regional Sustainable Tourism Development Programme (CRSTDP)
The first meeting was held in Antigua where the members discussed issues including the cost of intra-regional travel, the economic impact of declines in travel, improving the ease of passenger movement and launching actions to improve the efficiency of Caribbean air travel. Also on the agenda was the San Juan Accord, a memorandum agreed on by CTO members in 2007, along with issues like minimum revenue guarantees, “open skies” agreements, government taxes and fees, passenger security screening and other issues. The committee additionally discussed the possible departure of American Eagle from its San Juan hub in 2013.
1. The Task Force has recommended a review of visa regimes in member countries in order to improve the visitor experience and will propose a system similar to the Europe’s Schengen visa programme where visitors who are cleared at the initial port of entry can continue travelling seamlessly throughout most of the European Union.
The group agreed that full clearance at the first port of entry was necessary to ensure an improved cross regional experience by visitors. It was agreed that the sub-regional grouping, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, (OECS) should be used as a model for such a single visa regime and this best practice would be reviewed after its implementation for possible replication across the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region and beyond.
2. The Task Force is recommending a standardized entry and exit card– otherwise called immigration or ED card – across the Caribbean. This would help reduce airlines’ costs and improve customer service at Caribbean airports. The OECS, which is expected to introduce the use of one common ED card, will be used as a model.
3. The Task Force recommends an analysis of the impact of taxes and fees on the cost of regional air travel and a more holistic approach towards air travel revenue; including a possible ticket tax rebate when a traveller starts and ends the journey in another destination of the same domestic space.
4. The task force also identified an urgent need to end secondary screening for intra-regional passengers who are in transit since the current practice diminishes the overall travellers’ experience.