Can a pan-Caribbean airline ever happen?

For years the prospect of the Caribbean‘s multitude of island nations, and other interested neighbours, clubbing together and creating a pan-Caribbean carrier has been the topic of debate. Seldom has the debate got past the “in principle that sounds like a good idea” stage. As Peter Davies, the chief executive of BWIA West Indies Airways, observes: “This part of the world could do with one airline.”


The latest attempt to find common ground between carriers around the region saw the resurgent Latin American Airlines Association – ALTA – gather leaders from several airlines in the Cayman Islands in July. Air Jamaica, BWIA, Caribbean Star, Cayman Airways, Panama‘s COPA, Antigua‘s Liat and El Salvador‘s TACA were all there.


At this stage the discussion centred on issues like sharing resources and using the collective mass of the players concerned to purchase suppliers and services. The Caribbean players would do well to share the experiences of the Arab carriers which have been working effectively through the Arab Air Carriers Organisation to jointly buy services like ground handling.


Taking a greater step requires a more radical policy shift from carriers and governments around the region, whether in the Arab world or in the Caribbean.


There has been talk of mergers before. In 2003, a combination of BWIA and Liat was mooted (BWIA has a 9% stake in Liat). Back in 1994 there was a plan for an operationally merged Caribbean carrier.

One Response to Can a pan-Caribbean airline ever happen?

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