September 19, 2020

TCI Premier talks aviation tax at regional conference


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Heathrow-Airport-plane-ta-001From Turks and Caicos Weekly News

The safety of aircraft, cost of operations, cost of fuel and the impact of government imposed taxes were all hot topics of discussion during a regional tourism convention this week.

Premier Rufus Ewing jetted off to the US Virgin Islands last weekend to take part in the Caribbean Tourism Organisation State of the Industry Conference.

The second day of the conference focused on Caribbean aviation and was led by Peter Cerda, regional vice president of International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Cerda spoke of the success of commercial airlift to the Caribbean and said there is demand for increased capacity, but stressed that several factors make it expensive for airline operations.

Governments need to make a commitment to improve infrastructure, remove the barriers to interregional connectivity and to review excessive taxation levies to ensure the sustainability of airline operations in the future, he said.

The Premier made several interventions during this meeting, especially on the subject of aviation being the engine of economic growth and social development.

He explained that regional governments use air transport taxes to support airport developments.

However he added that a reduction in air transport taxes would increase passenger arrivals and boost job creation and revenue.

These real issues, the Premier said, present challenges to governments who in principle support air transport tax reduction to remain competitive.

Cerda also spoke on the topic of One Stop Security (OSS), which proposes that the regional states operate as one Caribbean territory.

This would allow passengers to be screened to a global standard at the originating airport and connect without being rescreened.

Ewing addressed the topic and said that there are indeed benefits to OSS, as the removal of restrictions for intraregional travel would allow for passenger transit throughout the region and enhance the travel experience.

It would also reduce the cost of interregional travel so that the Caribbean could complete globally.

But he went on to say that there are very real concerns that must not be taken for granted.

He raised the matter of the cost of technological infrastructure and training for the maintenance of border control and security.

These advancements, the Premier said, while enhancing security controls and creating better passenger travel experiences are cost-prohibitive, especially for the governments facing the economic challenges of small island developing states.

The second Caribbean Aviation Day (first being held in Barbados in 2007) ended with stakeholders’ committing to improving collaboration between airports, airlines and governments.

They also agreed to explore ways that the industry can assist governments in reducing dependency on air transport taxes.

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