JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Michael Whitaker, says the Caribbean continues to be a popular tourism gateway and it is important for member countries to maintain a high aviation standard.
  • Addressing an air transportation meeting of Directors General of the North American, Central American and Caribbean region, at the Iberostar Hotel in Lilliput, St. James, on October 13, Mr. Whitaker said the region is responsible for 17 per cent of the world travel market, with millions of visitors passing through annually.
  • He noted that with the improved relations between the United States and Cuba, the Caribbean can expect to see an even greater influx of visitors, and governments should ensure that their air transportation systems are on par with world standards and FAA regulations.

Deputy Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Michael Whitaker, says the Caribbean continues to be a popular tourism gateway and it is important for member countries to maintain a high aviation standard.

Addressing an air transportation meeting of Directors General of the North American, Central American and Caribbean region, at the Iberostar Hotel in Lilliput, St. James, on October 13, Mr. Whitaker said the region is responsible for 17 per cent of the world travel market, with millions of visitors passing through annually.

He noted that with the improved relations between the United States and Cuba, the Caribbean can expect to see an even greater influx of visitors, and governments should ensure that their air transportation systems are on par with world standards and FAA regulations.

“There are real opportunities for countries in the region to boost their tourism sector…to see an increase in their stopover numbers. We have been seeing an increase in growth, which means there will be more economic development,” he added.

Mr. Whitaker was appointed by President of the United States, Barack Obama, in June 2013. He is responsible for helping to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the largest aerospace system in the world – with over 50,000 operations daily – as well as regulating the safety of equipment and operators of the U.S. aviation industry.

He also serves as the Chief NextGen Officer and is responsible for the development and implementation of FAA’s NextGen modernisation of the air traffic control system.

Meanwhile, Regional Director of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and former head of General Aviation for the United States, Melvin Cintron,  praised Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago as two of the countries in the region that have taken the lead in modernising their aviation systems, adding that he is impressed with the proactive steps both countries have taken.

“(There are) real benefits in investing in aviation. An Oxford study on aviation shows that in direct and indirect investment, aviation accounts for over $158 billion annually throughout the region, and directly and indirectly employs over 8 million people. For countries in the region, their piece of the pie depends on what they put into aviation,” he said.

For his part, Director General of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA), Nari Williams-Singh, described the meeting as strategic, and where the ICAO Council continued its mission of regional and international air transport industry collaboration and oversight, as a specialised agency of the United Nations.

Jamaica’s delegation was headed by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy. It also included Ambassador Sheila Sealey Monteith of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Chief Executive Officer of MBJ Airports Ltd., Rafael Echevarne; and Acting President and CEO of the Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ), Audley Deidrick.

There were also representatives from the tourism industry, JAMPRO, and the general aviation community.