Twenty-four of the 25 nations in the Caribbean basin are ready to a sign a multilateral pact to liberalise aviation. The signatories, all members of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), include the 12 independent island nations of the Caribbean, plus Central America and the South American countries facing the Caribbean. Mexico is also an ACS member, but chose not to sign the pact.

With some exceptions, the agreement allows unlimited third and fourth freedoms, under which airlines may carry passengers between their home country and those of other members. Each country also has the option of granting fifth-freedom rights to other ACS members who reciprocate.

The agreement grew out of a recognition that the islands need to promote multi-destination tourism, and their airlines need freer access to assist it. The main objections came from non-island members such as Colombia and Panama, which resisted opening their skies to each other.

A final compromise limits the rights of airlines in non-island states such as Colombia and Venezuela. They have free access to the Caribbean islands and vice versa, but not to other ACS member states.

Source: Airline Business