United Caribbean Airways
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A special development project by British United Airways - 1969
In the course of collecting and researching the information for The History of British Caledonian 1928-1988, I came across the original report for BUA's Proposal for the Development of an Airline in the Caribbean.
As you would expect this was driven by and reported to those in Board positions, many £millions were involved and in 1969 this was still a considerable sum of money.
This document was written by Stuart Matthews in January 1969 following quite detailed research as you can imagine for setting up a new airline, and was for the attention of Alan Bristow; BUA's Managing Director and Deputy Chairman.
It is a fascinating proposal and one that I am pleased to be able to share on the site.
The Caribbean “Domestic Air Transport” Concept
The phased change of status of various former British colonial territories within the Caribbean into independent states has led to a fragmented air transport picture, advantageous to the large foreign international carriers who are at present able to fly virtually unhindered under the “open skies” policy which has developed, and detrimental to the small local carriers who are unable to operated commercially in the face of such competition.
The creation of a regional domestic air transport area would enable the curtailment of many fifth freedom rights being operated within the area by the large foreign carriers, and the combined traffic rights available to all the participating territories would provide a sound platform on which to build a strong and viable Caribbean carrier. In addition it would give a powerful bargaining position in the negotiation and fifth freedom rights required in other parts of the world.
The logical base on which to build an airline consortium as outlines above is within CARIFTA (Caribbean Free Trade Association) nations, embracing initially a combination of the interests of Barbados, Trinidad, Antigua and Guyana, each of whom has available to them potentially lucrative air traffic licenses, but none of whom can individually justify an efficient modern airline.
Development of the Caribbean Consortium
A study of the relative geographical situation clearly shows that the location of Barbados, standing as it does astride the main traffic generating area of North America and Europe to Trinidad, Guyana and South America, makes it the natural focal point for such a consortium. Neither of the independent territories Trinidad or Guyana is geographically so well placed and to centre an operation on either one of these would inevitably create “back-tracking” routes. Ironically however, of the states, only Barbados has no carrier at present.
In order to enable the development of a Caribbean air transport consortium based in Barbados, it is essential to create, as soon as possible, a Barbadian based airline company which would form the nucleus from which the consortium would grow. The existence of a carrier in Barbados will greatly affect the course of events in the area.
This company, with Government help, would initially take advantage of reciprocal traffic rights which are available to Barbados in order to establish itself as a viable operator and shortly thereafter would embark on a series of planned development phases by entering into associations with other local carriers with the ultimate intention of creating the Caribbean air carriers consortium. The consortium, whist commencing with the CARIFTA states, could ultimately embrace all the carriers of the local nations who are at present facing the same problems.
The USA has made it clear that it would welcome such a consortium, operating one major airline, to emerge, and that it is unwilling to negotiate separate agreements with each independent Caribbean nation. This is well understood and as long ago as 1966 it was possible for BUA to convene a meeting between the carriers of Trinidad (BWIA British West Indian Airways), Antigua (Leeward Islands Air Transport LIAT), Guyana (Guyana Airways) and Surinam (Surinam Airways, SLM) to discuss co-operation. As a direct result of that meeting the Foreign Ministers of both Aruba and Curacao wrote indicating their eagerness for Antilles Airways (ALM) to be included in any consortium arrangements since they appeared to be anxious to shake of KLM’s Dutch influence and pool their traffic rights. It is also understood that the Bahamas Government would be interested for Bahamas Airways to join a consortium.
A general map of the area is shown in Figure 1 below
British United Airways
Proposal for the Establishment of an airline in Barbados
Subsequent Development Plans
23rd January 1969
Tables 1 to 7 respectively list the traffic rights that all foreign carriers are now operating into Barbados, Antigua, Guyana, Trinidad, Bahamas, Surinam, Curacao and Aruba. The traffic rights, or Freedoms of the Air, feature in the tables and below is a summary of them.
The tables can be found here......Tables 1 - 7 .........they open in a seperate window