SLP calls for collaboration to reverse ECCAA downgrade

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SLP calls for collaboration to reverse ECCAA downgrade
Alva Baptiste, Minister for External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation of St Lucia addresses the general debate of the General AssemblyÕs seventieth session.
SLP’s Spokesman for Civil Aviation, Hon Alva Baptiste (file photo)

(PRESS RELEASE) — The Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has received with deep regret, the unpleasant news that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has downgraded the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) to Category 2 status.

A Category 2 International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) rating means that ECCAA – a body equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters – is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, and/or inspection procedures; legislation; operating regulations; licensing and certification obligations; surveillance and inspection obligations, and resolution of safety concerns.

The Saint Lucia Labour Party believes that Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and his Minister of Civil Aviation Guy Joseph should desist from their historically brash and belligerent approach to ECCAA and adopt a more constructive and conciliatory tone for the timely resolution of this matter.

Saint Lucia should play a pivotal role in returning ECCAA to Category 1 status for the following reasons:

Saint Lucia is a founding member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is an inter-governmental organisation which has created major institutions such as the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, and of course, the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA).

The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority provides safety oversight for the OECS States, in keeping with the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO). ICAO’s primary role is to provide a set of standards that regulate aviation across the world to secure the safety of air travel.

In view of the foregoing, and in light of the need to be more efficient in our operations and more prudent in our spending, the SLP advises that instead of seeking refuge in another Civil Aviation Authority, the Government of Saint Lucia should work cooperatively with the other OECS States to eliminate the identified deficiencies and bring ECCAA to compliance.

This may require assessing the current challenges of the ECCAA as a multi-island aviation regulator. In so doing, determine whether ECCAA’s shortcomings are related to deficiencies in legislation, financing, human resources, documentation and areas of oversight. For example, is ECCAA’s current revenue structure appropriate to meet its expenditure needs? Are budget constraints making it difficult to attract and retain top talent? Are the functions at ECCAA well-resourced and whether these issues need to be addressed as part of efforts to regain Category 1 status?

Based on the experience of other countries, the estimated time frame to regain its Category 1 status is between one and two years. The SLP is confident that the OECS grouping can regain Category 1 status within this time frame if we work assiduously and collaboratively towards this goal.

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