Big push to make airport Category 1
by ALBERT BRANDFORD
EARLY next month, Barbados will come under exacting scrutiny from United States and regional aviation officials that could lead to this country achieving the coveted Category 1 status by yearend.
"What that means for us," says Senator Rudy Grant, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, "is that [air] carriers can now register their operations in Barbados and can fly from Barbados to any point in the United States.
"Even though there are bilateral agreements between Barbados and the US, there are still certain provisions that require Category 1 status. We have a number of private jets, for instance, operating in Barbados, registered in the United States, but for all intents and purposes they are really based in Barbados.
"The reality is, however, that if those aircraft are registered in Barbados, they cannot fly from Barbados to the US as they desire. It means, therefore, that once we are able to achieve the Category 1 status, we will be able to encourage many aircraft operations to be registered here in Barbados and it would certainly provide us with additional revenue."
Grant's disclosures were made yesterday shortly before the Senate passed without debate an amendment to the Civil Aviation Act, which would help Barbados to meet the requirements of various international agencies including the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) as well as the United States' Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Regional Aviation Safety Oversight Organisation (RASOS).
He noted that RASOS had done an evaluation at Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) and identified some areas on which greater emphasis needed to be placed.
Grant said the terror attacks of September 2001 had changed the global civil aviation environment and there was a lot more emphasis now on safety and security and scrutiny by international organisations.
"It is anticipated that early in December the tenth officials from the FAA as well as from RASOS will be in Barbados to carry out an evaluation," he said. "We expect that we will meet all of the requirements that are [expected] of us. Shortly thereafter, the expectation is that Barbados will be achieving Category 1 status. We expect that by the end of the year, or very, very soon after that."
He said Category 1 status would signal to the rest of the world "that we have all of the necessary provisions in place to ensure that safety and security are at the forefront and that we can properly facilitate aircraft which would want to be registered here and fly into any part of the United States".