Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 19, 2016 (SKNIS): A three-day high level meeting themed the Third Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Technical Group aimed at exchanging ideas and providing suggestions in relation to air traffic control, air navigation safety and meteorology convened in St. Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday, October 19, at the Ocean Terrace Inn.

During her remarks at the opening ceremony, Kaye Bass, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, explained that the meeting is important for St. Kitts and Nevis as the aviation industry is under threat.

“It is not a modern phenomenon that it is a target for terrorist and other attacks. It is therefore imperative that all stakeholders, albeit state or private agencies, individuals or groups, remain steadfast in the goal to maintain safer skies,” said the Permanent Secretary. “Air Traffic Control is a critical component of aviation operations and all efforts must be taken to improve efficiency in this area. St. Kitts and Nevis is therefore proud that it serves as host to this specialized meeting, which will outline the rationale, benefits and opportunities for sharing and advancing the work in this area of aviation. We hope that you the participants will better understand the needs and be more open to cooperating with one another in order to enhance surveillance coverage and other components of aviation in this region.”

Ms. Bass stated that because of the threat faced by the aviation industry, it is imperative to implement robust surveillance systems in order to ensure flexible use of airspaces by airlines, as well as the improvement of safety. She added that it needs concentrated work to come together in this critical activity to provide opportunities to reinforce the air navigation safety worldwide.

The permanent secretary said that St. Kitts and Nevis has seen major achievements as it pertains to civil aviation.

“We acceded to the Chicago Convention in 2002, and since then we [St. Kitts and Nevis] have been very active participants in all of [International Civil Aviation Organization] ICAO’s meetings. The Department of Civil Aviation is relatively young however, having only been instituted in 2005,” said Ms. Bass, while acknowledging the dedicated and diligent Civil Aviation Officers in the department. “Nonetheless, its achievements to date have been commendable. The most recent [Transportation Security Administration] TSA Inspection report rated us [St. Kitts and Nevis] as mostly compliant with ICAO Standards and Recommended Procedures. Though under resourced, the Civil Aviation Department is a model regionally and oftentimes called upon to offer advice to other departments in the region.”

She stated that the Civil Aviation Department accomplished much this year due to the diligence of the officers. To date, they have been able to conduct training of all agencies involved in civil aviation, facilitate code sharing arrangements between Delta Airlines and Virgin Atlantic and certify a number of air carriers in the Federation.

A number of Caribbean countries including Antigua and Barbuda, Curacao, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, St. Lucia and host country St. Kitts and Nevis are represented at this high level meeting. Representatives from the United States and Mexico are also in attendance. Over the next three days, representatives of the various countries are expected to report on how their country implemented the Convention that deals with Air Traffic.