United Caribbean Airways
A special development project by British United Airways - 1969
Development Phase II - The development of the Regional Consortium
Having established Phase I and shown UCA to be operationally and commercially sound it is important to move on as soon as possible to Phase II - the development of the regional air transport consortium.
It is proposed therefore, to enter into an association with the carriers of Guyana (Guyana Airways) and Antigua (LIAT).
Due to the present uncertainty of the future of the carrier of Trinidad and Tobago, BWIA, it must be excluded for the time being. Nevertheless the outcome of the current BWIA situation should be borne in mind as it will affect the overall consortium picture.
LIAT and Guyana Airways are more important to a Barbados based carrier as they would be the vehicle for the dispersion of inter-continental traffic to those neighbouring islands and other destinations not catering for large jet aircraft. Figures 3 and 4 are maps showing their present operations respectively.
LIAT is 73% owned by BWIA. Purchase of this share from BWIA (current estimated to be worth £30,000 dependent on the position of its assets and liabilities) would be the simplest method of combining UCA with LIAT and it is anticipated no difficulty should be entailed in this. If BWIA ceases business in the near future the share in LIAT may become available. Alternatively the Barbados Government could apply pressures to achieve the sale, since Barbados controls the fifth freedom traffic from Bridgetown to the USA which generates some 37% of BWIA’s total annual revenue. BWIA at present has no permits from the Barbados government and is operating on a day to day basis.
Guyana Airways currently operate purely internal domestic services with no international services. However, Guyana’s international traffic annually exceeds 65,000 passengers, estimated to be worth over £2million. This traffic is carried by eight foreign carriers, serving sixteen destinations, who between them operate eighteen 3rd and 4th freedom and fourteen fifth freedom services. From this Guyana obtains no return.
Guyana Airways is totally government owned and an association with UCA and LIAT on a pooled traffic right basis would necessarily be the subject of intergovernmental negotiations. These should not prove difficult in view of the share of revenue which would accrue to Guyana from the exploitation of its own traffic rights.
It is important that the association between LIAT and Guyana Airways should not be delayed since during the bilateral negotiations the ownership and structure of UCA will be closely scrutinised. If it can be argued that UCA contravenes Article 7 of the Chicago Convention it is likely that many countries will attempt to avoid their commitments for reciprocal traffic rights on the grounds that UCA is really BUA in disguise.
UCA’s speedy development in linking up with other local operators would enhance its image as a truly Caribbean operator and shows that BUA’s participation was genuinely allied to management and the supply of aircraft rather than an attempt to dominate the area.
Development Phase III - Longer term development of the regional air transport consortium
It is proposed, as Phase III of UCA’s development, to extend the consortium to link up with other Caribbean operators whose pooled traffic rights would reinforce the partnership.
These airlines might include Bahamas Airways, Surinam Airways (SLM), Antilles Airways (ALM) and BWIA which together with LIAT, Guyana Airways and UCA would embrace most of the Eastern Caribbean area. The viability of each of these carriers on its own is doubtful but the combined reciprocal and fifth freedom rights available to them collectively would make the consortium a powerful and commercially could carrier operating short and medium haul routes within their area. In addition they would have available to them long haul routes capable of being developed on an intercontinental basis (see Tables 1 - 7).
Development along these lines would make possible a completely integrated consortium with a common air transport policy at a time when there is a rapid development of tourism and aviation within the area.
Further developments for UCA
Amphibious Services to the Grenadines
Many of the Grenadine Islands are incapable of having aircraft landing strips due to their size or terrain. However, the need for local air services exists and BUA propose to examine the possibility of establishing scheduled services from Barbados using amphibious aircraft. It is possible that these routes will prove to be commercially unsupportable, but could be maintained as a social service to the community by a small subsidy.
Barbados Air Training School
With the proposed development of UCA to the status of a sizeable international carrier, the need to establish a training school at an early stage is a desirable requirement. BUA proposes to examine the creation of such an establishment catering initially for club and ab initio training and developing by stages to a full airline pilot and crew training school
The unobstructed position of Bridgetown Airport together with the navigational equipment available and the excellent weather which normally prevails would be advantageous to such an establishment.
23rd January 1969
In April 1967 BUA unvelied their Four-phase plan for expansion across the Atlantic to Canada and beyond, including routes to the Caribbean. This was to be staged over 4 years. The route applications were decimated in December 1967 by the UK's Board of Trade who then directed the Licensing Board to refuse the majority of them. BUA withdrew the remaining applications as they would still have to go through hearings on both sides of the Atlantic and the start of the Edwards Committee hearings into licences made any decions unlikley.
I feel that they looked further afield following this set back and the Caribbean Airline proposal was a result of the setbacks when dealing with the UK Government at the time.
But time was against any decision, the aforementioned Edwards Committee would see a battle like no other for airlines and licences; which nearly led to the sale of BUA to BOAC, but ultimately led to the takeover of BUA by Caledonian Airways in 1970.......and the start of something bigger, British Caledonian.
As you know, these feature pages always end with something special.......and here is one of those liveries we never saw at Gatwick; sporting the Barbadian national flag, a United Caribbean Airways VC10.
Always pleased to hear your thoughts on these feature pages.........was this well known, would it have worked ?