The Barbados Government is sticking to its claim that Trinidad owes it outstanding air navigation fees.
Speaking in the Senate today, the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, reported that since 2005, through a subsidiary company – the Caribbean Air Navigation and Advisory Services – the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority has been collecting air navigation fees charged to aircraft operating in the region’s the upper airspace.
While denying reports of an “air war” between Barbados and Trinidad, she pointed out that Eastern Caribbean states had also disputed Trinidad and Tobago’s claim to the collection, management and control of the fees and were suggesting that the fees that were collected be shared equitably.
The Government Senator told fellow legislators that the issue was raised at the recently concluded Directors of Civil Aviation meeting in December 2015 in New Orleans, USA, where it was agreed that by December 18, 2015, Barbados, France, the United Kingdom and the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States would inform Trinidad and Tobago about their share of the fees.
Garner said there were reports that the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation authorities had been collecting in excess of TT$200 million per annum in navigation fees.
During the last sitting of the House of Assembly, Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy had charged that the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation authorities owed Barbados some outstanding fees and called on them to forward the cheque to Barbados.
However, when contacted by Barbados TODAY, the Director General of Civil Aviation in Trinidad and Tobago Ramesh Lutchmedial said as far as he was concerned, there were no outstanding navigation fees due to Barbados.
He pointed out that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was the body responsible for assigning airspace territory and as far back as 1950 it had assigned the Piarco Flight Information Region to Trinidad and Tobago.
Lutchmedial also highlighted Article 15 of the Chicago Convention to which Barbados is a signatory, saying “ a country can only charge airlines if they provide a service to the airlines”.
“We only charge airlines for services we provide above 24 500 feet, so therfore we don’t owe Barbados or any other Eastern Caribbean state any money because we are not collecting monies for flying in their terminal areas or for any services that we provide,” Lutchmedial explained.