Barbados Jurisdiction Category II Rating Explained

Posted as a comment on another blog


“Category 1 airport status in corrupt Antigua; Category 2 status in number one developing state Barbados.” – Kiffin


… the OECS created the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA), funded it properly, and gave it some teeth and experienced people. The DCA here Barbados is still merely a gubmint Department over seen by a Minister, while the ECCAA is an agency – a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) – which is to some measure independent and apart from politics, and collect their own revenues (as well as some government financing in many cases).

The DCA in Barbados has for decades been run by Air Traffic Controllers who rose through the ranks following very narrow rules and have little or no breadth of experience or knowledge, and (in Barbados) for their entire careers they have been abused by their Directors who have ensured they have as little say in their own professional lives as possible.

From personal experience I can tell you that the Controllers in Barbados have lost every part of their jobs – which is standard internationally – and gave them insight into airspace outside of Barbados. For instance, they are trained solely in Barbados, and “FAM” (familiarisation) flights to other islands or even to north America were cut off many decades ago. They are also treated with scant respect – and so have as much interest in expanding their personal horizons as a coffee cup.

If Barbados wants a Category 1 rating, there are changes to be made and money to be spent. As we speak, there are more global changes coming which I know the Barbados government will look upon with even more surprise, but they are changes which MUST be adopted, whether they like it or not, or be ostracised from their affiliation from ICAO (and therefore with the FAA, Canadian DoT and the CAA in the UK).

In part, the ECCAA has a Cat 1 rating because it keeps up and deals with reality. Barbados does not have the Cat 1 Rating because they do not have the structure, financing or people in place to make it all happen.

And that the current Director should advise REDjet as badly as he did is a testament to the level of damage a poor incumbent can do – and this has repercussions throughout CARICOM and the “developed” countries whose airlines serve Barbados.

On Africa, you may have noticed that Jamaica just signed a treaty with Nigeria for air rights between the two countries. I could make any number of comments about corruption, violence and waste, but I will merely mention instead that I think it will be some time before nan airline looks at that question and finds some economic merit in taking a chance on it.

25 thoughts on “Barbados Jurisdiction Category II Rating Explained

  1. Hell and the ECCAA has its own website!

    When BU, Bush Tea, Crusoe, Straight Talk and others write about the lack of leadership in Barbados in the last 15 years this is some of what we are talking about. In time of plenty we have an island which depends on tourism as its #1 foreign exchange earner and no effort made to put the regulatory framework in place to procure a Cat 1 rating. Never mind though we can boast of having the best airport in the region.

    Continue to debate the issues based on political biases.

    • In addition the above explains why REDjet’s approval took so damn long.

      Isn’t this the stuff traditional media should be commenting on?

    • Thanks 40 acres, know you don’t get involved in the politics but do you want to give an opinion about what the Cat II rating says about Barbados’ leadership?

    • Thanks 40 acres, this is what is called strategic thinking.

      We commit 800 million to a marina and extension to the port which is a tourism driven exercise but by our deficient planning we allow others to control the traffic and air routes.

      Tsk Tsk

  2. David the title of this article is incorrect. The Barbados Jurisdiction has been given a Cat2 rating, not the airport. Much of the public confusion on this matter stems from the misperception of it having to do with the airport.

    Both the BLP and DLP have not had a clue about the potential that lies in developing international transport and the benefits that can accrue to Barbados simply by nature of where nature put it. The airport is seen as a portal to the tourist industry and maybe a way to bring time sensitive cargo into and out of the country. Nothing more.

    The ability to act as a hub not only for the Caribbean but also between North and South America, Europe and Africa has been totally missed by those in authority. The state of the Dept. of Civil Aviation is simply a symptom of the lack of vision of successive administrations. Hence all of the issues outlined by the blogger above. Cat 2 is not some mysterious state of affairs. It is very clear what is required. All that the Government needs to do is to get serious about providing the department with the training and resources to do the job.

    One thing is certain, Trinidad and Tobago sees the potential and is going for it. Hence investments in Piarco, and a drive to develop routes out of Latin America. The new route structure of Caribbean Airlines moves the hub from Barbados to Trinidad. At quite literally the stroke of a pen, Trinidad did more damage to Barbados’ International Transport Industry than has occurred since we had an airport.

    The new moves to block RedJet come not only to protect Caribbean Airlines as the carrier in the region but also to protect Port of Spain’s strategic plan to make Piarco the hub for the Southern Caribbean. An airline hubbing in Barbados would most likely in the long term pull people who would otherwise have to go to Piarco or Puerto Rico. The controversy is not so much about Airlines as jurisdictions. We already know from the maritime border issue that Trinidad will pursue it’s national interest Caricom or not.

    To blame the DCA for the category 2 rating is wrong, the DCA is simply a symptom of the malaise holds Barbados back in this potentially lucrative sector.

  3. @David. That is what I am talking about, getting a FAA CAT ratings has little to do with airports, planes or how economic develop a country is. Because even you are a developed country, have a first -rate airport infrastructure and a brand new fleet of aircrafts it matters very little to the FAA if your Aviation administartion comes up short in terms of record keeping, legislative framework , training, or train technical personel. As a matter of fact a few years ago Israel was demoted from a CAT1 rating to a CAT2 rating by the FAA.

    The ICAO does not give ratings, they set minimun aviation standard. However, countries which meet ICAO standard can still fall short of FAA CAT1 ratings. You can think of the FAA as the world police of enforcing ICAO standard and also settting a standard where any country that does not meet such standard cannot have aircrafts registering in that country flying to the USA. The Europoean does the same also. Countries that have poor safety, maintence, training and administration of their avaiation industry are normally downgraded or banned by the big boys (Europe and the USA).Phillippine airlines was banned from Europe airspace a few years ago and it is only recently that Nigeria got CAT1 ratings from the FAA.

    Africa is the region with the most air disaster. There are a few african countires with FAA CAT 1 ratings. The FAA put out these ratings to inform the travelling public. I have been to the african continent three times and I have never flown on an african national carrier.Barbados needs to get the necessary infrastructure in place and stop fooling ourselves about best airport in the region and the like, because that ain’t shit when it comes to CAT 1 rating. Therefore if the EC, Bahamas and the Cayman Island can do it we definately can.

  4. @ David

    why has no one on the blog congratulated the West indies team on a rare win. lets hope that this is the start.

  5. Aviation Afficionado | May 15, 2011 at 4:23 PM |
    AA pick up the phone speak to George Hutson and tell him what it takes for us to be cat 1 if Anigua and Cayman done it no way it can be so difficult. Bdos must do whatever it takes to be cat 1 like yesterday.

  6. as an old man sitting by the river.while walking thru bridgetown, last week i hear another old boy tell me how he hear that since de bus fare gone up to 2 dallars. there are more pirate pun de road that ever, he said that by dec .last year there were 30 pirate pon de bibby lane route a lone. but today there are about 130 of these vans. playin that them are zr, and de police see then runnin up on down with a load of people ,and park next to spy st, and as an old man i ent gettin in dem van, cause them does drive really fast and if them gettin any accident, well u on ur own. so it is time some body tell these people wait for de government bus……..

  7. @David. I don’t have much to say on that front , but just to say that we have been found wanting on a serious matter like this. I donot know all the history of Barbados civil aviation governance, but I cannot remember if we have ever been given a CAT 1 rating in the past.I find this rather strange because our economy is so depended tourism. And tourism mean transporting people by way of air travel in and out the island as hassle-free as possible.If the government and the regulatory agency(BCAD) were serious about these things and were more proactive they wouldnot have been caught flat-footed in this situation. In other words we should have been CAT1 -ready 24/7 from the get go. It shouldn’t have taken Redjet to expose our deficiency.

    But everything happen for a purpose, because if Redjet was given the greenlight to open up shop in Kingston this problem would not have been addressed. That was one of the reason why Redjet went to Jamaica first knowing that Barbados was not CAT1 rated. However, they were hoping that we would have gotten the FAA approval but we then we came up short.

    I think because we have never had the experience to own and operated our own national carriers like some other Islands, our standards with respect to international air carrier standards are why the way they are today.

  8. David,

    This current state of affairs comes from a view of having abandoned the idea of a national airline (which I am not proposing would be desirable) , International Transport has basically been seen as a facilitator for the Tourist industry and possibly some cargo.

    Barbados has given flag status to Air Jamaica and Liat, I’m not sure if BWIA had that status but it certainly filled the role of a National Carrier for Barbados as most of it’s flights landed here before terminating in Trinidad. The rise of Caribbean Airlines has ended that role. In fact Patrick Mannings vision of “One regional airline” is potentially the worst thing that could happen to Caricom. A regional carrier with no competition based in Trinidad, and run by and for Trinidadians first.

    The new GAIA terminal was designed as a hub, with the facilities to move plane loads of people from arrivals to departures easily. The infrastructure is there, however the rest of the government departments (DCA, Customs, Immigration, Port Health, Agriculture etc.) need to be given the resources to make this happen.

    A study needs to be done on what it would take to bring more airlines to base here either as main hubs or as regional hubs. The network effect means that as you attract more airlines you become more attractive to airlines.

    Barbados needs to stop viewing Aviation as simply coming to Barbados, and to start viewing it in the context of continuing on to somewhere else. This shift of focus will allow Barbados to tap into a global industry that can grow to become a pillar of the Barbados economy much in the same way as offshore financial services has.

  9. Bizzy is in the news criticizing Trinidad and Jamaica’s positions. Should you blame the countries or the lack of a regional air route policy? Is this a failing of a flaw in the Caricom entity?

  10. @old man river, | May 15, 2011 at 8:42 PM |
    “as an old man sitting by the river.while walking thru bridgetown,” that statement don’t make sense. how can u be sitting yet walking? stupessssssss

    “next park next to spy st, and as an old man i ent gettin in dem van, …them does drive really fast and if them gettin any accident, well u on ur own”

    it is all the same cause if a ZR was in an accident the amount insured would be the same as the illegal van. meaning, if the illegal van got in an accident with passengers, the passengers would be compensated the same way as the ZR vans passengers because no passenger is going to say that they do not know the driver and they paid $2.00 fee to get on. they will say they got a ride etc, etc,. who will be foolish enough to say they got into an van that was illegally plying passengers?

  11. @David.Exactly. All those politicians and citizens who are making noise about T&T and Jamaica putting up all kind of hurdles to fustrate Redjet operation are uninformed at best. The fact of the matter is that Caricom MASA doesn’t even worth the paper it is printed on. This air service agreement is in variance with the revised treaty of Chagaramas and I was informed that CARICOM secretariat was in the process of revising it….I don ‘t know if that process has been completed. MASA which was introduced in 1998 only give caricom air carriers full traffic rights and various freedom services in conjunction with other international bilateral air service agreement(ASA). And their is a restricitve clause concerning mulit-carrier designation. CARICOM countries international air service is governed by bilateral arrangements with various states and not by a one stop regional policy.

    The the issue of a comprehensive regional policy with regards to intra-regional air transport in my opinion, is all about lack of trust, caribbean insularity and implementaion break-downs. We donot even have a CARICOM open skies agreement with respect to inter-regional travel much less. Nonetheless other member states have already signed open skies agreement with international carriers.

    Because we all are competeting over the same tourism pie, we all seemed to adopt the darwinian model of survival rather than combining our resources together. Can’t just blame T&T and Jamaica for their stance. It is a caribbean mentality.

  12. Thanks 40 acres, this is an extremely interesting and important subject and speaks to how as a region we will be able to create a common space. To your last point, all the countries in Caricom are more interested in collecting airport taxes to pay for spanking structures.

  13. @ David. I am a caribbean man and a unapolgetic regionalist.I donot concern myself over petty squabbles at times that flare up now and then.However, I am incensed at the lethargic pace we go about linking and harmonising vital and strategic regional assests that could we a win-win for everybody.Of which energy and airtransport comes to mind. The caribbean tourism organisation did a study a few years ago that showed the potential and significane of regional tourism . It went further to state that the regional visitor spend as much as the international visitor and their dollar trickle down more to the local economy. The only way we can capitalise on the regional tourism market is to get our air transportation policy in order.

  14. What all of the above goes to show is that, in the end, Redjet will be allowed to regulate themselves, because nobody in Barbados has the knowledge, experience or competence to do it. That is why you won’t get me walking up the steps of a Redjet aircraft anytime soon.

  15. Caribbean people will continue to pay high prices for air travel while we get discounts to travel from North America.

    Cheap ting nuh good but only in de Caribbean.

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