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  • Writer's pictureClara

Bilateral Air Services Agreement

A dynamic air travel industry is an essential requirement for sustainable growth and development for economies that depend on tourism.

Considering the foregoing, Saint Lucia recently signed an Air Services Agreement (ASA) with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The ASA is one of the fundamental facets of modern international commercial air travel. Hence the many airlines from the Middle East region that may want to service Saint Lucia, whether directly or indirectly, now have the framework to do so.

The signing took place during the International Air Services Negotiation Event (ICAN2019) which took place during the period December 2-6, 2019 in Aqaba, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Both Saint Lucia and the UAE were satisfied that the Agreement benefited from rigorous scrutiny and was in line with international standard and respective local requirements.

The annual event, which was supported by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and was the twelfth of its kind, was attended by delegates from over 90 countries, industry organizations, and international organizations. Saint Lucia was represented by Mr. Claudius Emmanuel, Permanent Secretary in the Department of Economic Development, Transport and Civil Aviation. Mr. Emmanuel, having attained the requisite authority, signed on behalf of the Government of Saint Lucia.

The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the UAE through its Air Transport Department signed on behalf of the UAE after the two sides had agreed terms and initialed the ASA earlier this year.

Air Services Agreements are Bilateral Agreements that call for countries to continually negotiate new treaties to allow international aviation to grow and expand their carriers’ access to new and emerging markets and to benefit either directly or indirectly from the expansion or search for new markets by foreign carriers.

The ICAN2019 Event provided the opportunity for Saint Lucia and many other countries to have a common place to meet and strengthen or sign new Air Services Agreements through face to face and cordial negotiations. As such Saint Lucia also met and negotiated Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) and draft ASAs with Qatar and the Republic of Rwanda. The signing of the MOU and the initialing of the draft ASAs with these two countries followed negotiations which were facilitated through remote technical and legal support from Saint. Lucia.

Saint Lucia also held talks with the United States of America regarding Open Skies ASA between the two states, and met with the United Kingdom (UK) to discuss implications to our existing Bilateral Agreement with UK’s possible exit from the European Union (BREXIT).

The Cabinet of Ministers approved the formal signing of the previously initialed Air Services Agreement with the UAE at a mutually convenient place and time, pending the completion of any further national requirements necessary to formalize the agreement.

The Air Services Agreement creates an avenue that would be able to:

(a) Maximize economic benefits to both countries (for example in the area of trade in goods and services) consistent with foreign policy and strategic considerations.

(b) Secure enhanced quantity, quality and breadth in international civil aviation and air transport links.

(c) Facilitate access to existing and potential air markets of interest, either directly or indirectly, to both Countries.

The objectives of the signed Air Services Agreement include, inter alia:

(d) to promote travel, trade and tourism with the intention to designate Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Air Arabia, RAK Airways and Fly Dubai as Designated Airlines of the United Arab Emirates, and to also be able to designate additional UAE airline(s) in due course.

(e) establish and operate Air Services between and beyond Saint Lucia and United Arab Emirates’ respective territories;

(f) acknowledge the importance of air transportation as a means of creating and fostering friendship, understanding and co-operation between the people of the two countries;

(g) facilitate the expansion of international air transport opportunities;

A signed ASA between Saint Lucia and the UAE is likely to trigger further possible benefits as follows:

(a) Access to a previously untapped market with possible more efficient linkages to the Middle East region and the wider Eastern Hemisphere.

(b) Increased airlift into Saint Lucia (direct or indirectly), given its potential appeal to a diversified tourist demographic.

(c) The creation of more air travel options for Saint Lucian residents and other travelers.

(d) Saint Lucian’s being able to benefit, through convenience, cheaper fares or otherwise from Cooperative Arrangements between/among the various airlines

(e) The strengthening of linkages between trade (goods and services) and transportation, as well as the opportunity to explore new markets.

The above benefits can make a significant boost to the economic fortunes of St. Lucia given that they can be gained at minimal public expenditure.

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