The establishment of a Civil Aviation Authority, which is in the works, will see the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) one step closer to reaching Category 1 status.
This was disclosed by Senior Minister and Minister of Energy and Business Development, Kerrie Symmonds as he led off debate on the Civil Aviation Bill 2022, in Parliament on Tuesday morning.
He acknowledged that the GAIA would not be given Category 1 status until Barbados had its own flag carrier. However, Symmonds said, that should not prevent the Government from making all the other necessary improvements required for the airport to attain that status.
“That we may not have our own flag carrier today should not be a bar or inhibition for us doing the heavy lifting now to get us to the point where we are certified as being as close to Category 1 as we can be. And that is the mission that we are on and that is the message I am offering to the country,” the senior minister said.
He further explained that there were several factors that would prevent an airport from reaching Category 1 status, such as if the requisite laws and standards were not in place and the Civil Aviation Authority lacked technical expertise.
Symmonds said Barbados currently operates under age-old legislation.
“We are basking in the complacency of a regulatory framework that goes back to 2007,” he said.
He said there was a need to reform the sector by creating separate and segregated roles for regulation and service providers.
He explained that currently, the “regulation of things that happen at the airport”, its management, control of its operations, and regulation of activity are done by “the same entity that is the service provider at the airport”.
Minister Symmonds said this represented a conflict of interest.
“The Civil Aviation Bill 2022 is aimed at establishing what we will call a Civil Aviation Authority. Civil aviation in Barbados has been obviously around for a long time. We have seen the airport expand physically in terms of its campus. We have seen a lot more commercial passenger traffic come to Barbados. We have dabbled our little toe in the water with a flight school. We have had the benefit of our own air traffic control tower. We have trained people. But what we have failed to do is to sustain these efforts in a meaningful way and to develop them to their fullest potential,” he said.