Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 25th 2013 Contents BG6 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JULY 2013 • WEEK FOUR
Caribbean Airlines and
Colombia s Avianca are
in talks that could result
in direct flights between
Colombia and T&T. This
would facilitate easier
business and trade
between the two coun-
tries, said Alfonso Múnera, secretary general,
Association of Caribbean States (ACS).
Múnera spoke about a meeting between
T&T s Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dook-
eran and Colombia s Foreign Affairs Minster
Maria Angela Holguin in June in which the
management of Colombia s largest airline,
Avianca was also involved.
These talks between the airlines is the result
of an ACS ministerial meeting held in February
Múnera spoke to the Guardian last Thursday
at the office of the ACS, Sweet Briar Road, St
He said Avianca also owns TACA airlines
which operates in Central America and
Oceanair Linhas Aéreas which serves the Brazil-
Avianca, founded in 1919, is the world s
second oldest existing airline and covers 87
destinations in 22 countries.
Avianca and TACA jointly have a record of
transporting 1.9 million passengers in one
month. This was achieved in July two years
The airline is wholly owned by Avianca
Holdings, a Latin American holding company
established in Panama and specialising in air
The company is part of the Synergy Group
and is listed on the Colombia Stock Exchange.
"Avianca is looking at having direct flights
between Colombia and T&T. The company is
also exploring the idea of flights between
Trinidad and San Salvador, El Salvador. They
are developing a strategy right now and, in a
few weeks, a report will be ready."
He said the current routes flown by Copa
Airlines came out of discussions the ACS had
at its 2005 summit so he expects the same
positive results to come out of the Avianca
and Caribbean Airlines discussions.
Múnera said businesses will benefit from a
"Everything will be easier, communication,
business, tourism, travel and trade," he said.
"During the first week of August, if a pas-
senger wishes to travel to Colombia using
Copa Airline, the route would be from Trinidad
to Panama, then to Bogota. The cost would
Having a direct flight would facilitate ease
of business between T&T and the neighbouring
Latin American continent.
Múnera said although it is one region, the
routes used by multinationals have destroyed
the older routes that existed at one time.
"In the 1940s and 1950s communication
by sea was important in the region. There
were ships from Colombia every week to the
Caribbean with cargo and passengers. It was
a dynamic relationship.
"The development of the big airlines, how-
ever, started to reshape the international routes
and created new hubs. What happened was
that the Caribbean was outside of these routes.
The link between Latin America and the
Caribbean was lost," he said.
"Now in the early 21st century we need
these routes for integration. The ACS has the
privilege to bring different countries together
to discuss the issue of connectivity."
Just last week, Prime Minister of Dominica
Roosevelt Skerrit said the shareholder gov-
ernments of Liat are discussing proposals that
would allow Venezuela interest in the airline.
Skerrit said Venezuela has expressed an
interest in investing in the regional airline
company and that a draft agreement has
already been provided to shareholders for their
He added that if they could get Venezuelan
state-owned Conviasa to service flights from
Brazil and Venezuela as well as all Latin Amer-
ican countries and transport them to a hub
in the Caribbean, this would mean additional
business for Liat.
Although the ACS was not involved in the
talks between Liat and Venezuela, Múnera
called the development with Liat a "positive
ACS Business Summit
Múnera said next year in February in Mexico,
the ACS will be hosting a business summit.
"Mexico is committed to hosting this busi-
ness forum to bring businesspeople from
throughout the world to meet in Mexico with
Caribbean business people."
He sees it as an opportunity for greater
investment in the region.
"This must be a tool for greater trade and
investment which is very important. In Latin
America, the environment is very alive. In the
past, important investment came from outside
the region. But now we have capital flow com-
ing from inside the region; Mexican capital
coming from Colombia, Brazilian capital going
to Panama and to Costa Rica. It is a dynamic
process. Now we want to help Caribbean
islands to get together with Latin American
countries to facilitate investments."
He said there are ongoing talks with Minister
Dookeran about the Business Summit.
"We want to see how we can facilitate capital
flows into T&T and the rest of the region. If
we have trade, investment and business, jobs
are going to be created and more people are
going to get work."
Tourism Economic Zone
Julio Eduardo Orozco, director of Sustainable
Tourism, ACS, who also took part in the inter-
view, spoke about a tourism zone that would
improve the fortunes of tourism as a revenue
earner for the region.
"We have 35 million people in the greater
Caribbean and Central America. The ACS is
trying to promote it as a multi-destination
programme with greater connectivity," he said.
Orozco also said the ACS wants the region
to be viewed as a "green tourist area" where
tourists can would want to come because they
view the region as being environmentally
"We will have the three requirements for
tourist arrivals: resources, community and
business. These areas will provide more
employment, more investment, and more
resources for the region," he said.
Múnera said tourism is now a very com-
"The competition is very strong from Asia,
Europe and Latin America. Our goal in early
2014 is to have a tourism sustainable zone
ratified so it can be used properly," he said.
ACS secretary general
Alfonso Múnera on:
ACS 5th Summit
Múnera said these initiatives
came out of the 5th Summit of the
ACS Summit in Haiti in April.
He called the summit a huge suc-
"The summit was important as it
as the fourth summit since 2005.
After eight years we agreed to have
the fifth summit in Haiti. During the
ministerial meeting in February, the
member states agreed that we
must revitalise the ACS and use it
to unite Central American countries,
Caribbean islands and also Mexico,
Colombia and Venezuela," he said.
There was a plan of action that
came out of the summit that is
being implemented now.
Some of the main areas that were
discussed were trade, disaster pre-
vention, tourism, transport, educa-
tion and culture.
Association of Caribbean States
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