The regional director for the Americas of IATA, Humberto Rivero, has called on Caribbean governments to involve
the airlines in the process of “creating a brand new Caribbean.“A veteran of the airline industry, Rivero attributed the region’s challenges with
airlift to a lack of understanding by the policymakers of the airline business,
which, he said, puts the Caribbean’s main economic engine of growth in jeopardy.
Addressing the opening workshop at the 29th Annual Caribbean Tourism Conference
(CTC-29) here, Rivero said a fundamental mistake made by governments is the tendency
to micromanage the relationship between airlines and their clients. He cited the
case of Uruguay which he said passed legislation recently to establish a fixed
airline commission of six percent for travel agents. However, this resulted in a
reduction of 60 percent of the country’s airlift - effectively hurting the
livelihood of the very travel agents that the government sought to protect, he told
The IATA official also complained of “excessive taxation,” explaining that air
traffic control charges, as well as fuel and passenger taxes, place an “economic
burden’ on the airlines.
“The airlines have no option but to pay,” said Rivero, pointing out that the
airlines are then obliged to pass the added expenses on to the customers, who are
sensitive to the slightest price variations.
The IATA regional director conceded that these issues are not true across the board,
but said the lack of consistency from destination to destination lends itself to a
generalization of the problems.
However, Rivero clearly emphasized with optimism that the climate of cooperation,
innovation, and rejuvenation of the Caribbean hotel and tourism industry - captured
in the theme of CTC-29 - is the ideal opportunity to redefine the working
relationship between the governments and the airlines to one of harmony, marked by
open dialogue and consultation.