The attempts by Vincentian airline Fly One Caribbean (OCL) Barbados to bring Grenadian students to Grenada has sparked an angry response from the Grenada Government which barred the carrier from landing there.
Now talks have begun between the Grenadian authorities and the carrier to allow it to land there in future.
According to the authorities in St George’s, the airline, which is attempting to help fill the void left by grounded inter-island carrier LIAT, is not welcomed there just yet.
In a harshly worded statement, Grenada’s Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation declared that the airline, which was offering tickets for flights into St George’s was expressly forbidden from doing so because OCL had not obtained appropriate licensing to land commercial flights there.
The statement read: “The ministry… is therefore deeply concerned about the manner in which the management of One Caribbean has conducted its business in recent days, in regard to the operation of flights into and out of Grenada.
“It was very disturbing to discover that the airline had already posted schedules and had engaged in negotiations with people desiring to enter or leave the country, without the appropriate standard procedure being concluded, as advised and required.”
The aviation ministry disclosed that this position was again reiterated during a meeting of the Chief Executive Officer of the Grenada Airport Authority, the country’s Senior Civil Aviation officer and the CEO of One Caribbean on Monday.
This was to address concerns after three OCL flights that landed in Grenada last weekend, without permission from Grenadian authorities.
The Grenadian ministry said: “Each time, Civil Aviation made compassionate exemptions because we were concerned about the welfare of our citizens who had booked those flights. One Caribbean was explicitly reminded that they needed the appropriate licence to operate continuous flights.
“It has become obvious that One Caribbean has not heeded the requirements, and we must insist on compliance with the requisite procedure before they are allowed to continue their operations in and out of Grenada.”
A planeload of passengers including ten university students were abruptly left in limbo when OCL informed them that their flight out of Bridgetown had been cancelled. Authorities in St George’s later approved a charter flight to allow the citizens to enter.
The frustrating saga prompted Grenada Students’ Association leader Jose Martha Bowen to condemn CARICOM Governments’ and institutions for failing to work in unison, to the detriment of Caribbean people.
OCL representative Dale Miller on Tuesday confirmed that no permission had been granted for the commercial service to Grenada, and said discussions would continue about the possibility of such services occurring in the near future.
The civil aviation ministry pointed to other regional airlines – Caribbean Airlines, interCaribbean Airways and SVG Air – which it said are all complying with Grenada’s aviation requirements, according to the statement.
It stressed that the new requirements are consistent with Grenada’s response to the challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.