Sun | Mar 18, 2018

Government pursuing Open Skies Policy

Published:Saturday | November 19, 2016 | 4:23 PM

The Andrew Holness led administration is pursuing an Open Skies Policy, which is an agreement under which two or more countries allow unrestricted overflight and landing rights to each another.

This was disclosed by Transportation Minister, Mike Henry at the opening of a new air traffic control tower at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston earlier this week.

According to Henry, the policy is being pursued to increase connectivity to the island and promote Jamaica as a regional hub.

“It will also encourage competition and expansion of international air services.”

He noted that the policy will provide an environment that will encourage operations into Jamaica’s international airports.

It will also facilitate the development of Jamaica’s international trade, investments, tourism and all sectors of air transport.

Since 2010, Jamaica has negotiated bilateral air services agreements with more than 20 states.

These include Canada, Chile, Iceland, Singapore, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, China, Brazil, Qatar, India and the Czech Republic.

IN PHOTO: Mike Henry

Henry indicated that as the travel industry prepares for a surge in growth, Jamaica needs to put in place innovations to enhance the safety, performance and security of the industry in tandem with the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

In keeping with plans to improve the aviation section, Henry also disclosed that the

Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) is undertaking a J$4.92-billion (One Jamaica dollar=US$0.008 cents),upgrading project, which is expected to be completed by October 2017.

The work will include the manufacturing and installation of a new state-of-the-art air traffic management system, new L-Band primary and Mode-S radar technology as well as the installation of a voice communication and control system.

He informed that the JCAA has already undertaken several measures to improve air-navigation services, citing the installation of a new instrument landing system (ILS) at Sangster International Airport in second city of Montego Bay.

“The ILS is an aid in precision runway approach to enhance the quality of Jamaica’s air-navigation services by providing pilots with vertical and horizontal guidance during the landing approach,” he informed.

He noted that the system will be commissioned in December, following the successful pre-commissioning quality assurance inspection.

Meanwhile, Henry said the new 131-ft. air traffic control tower, forms part of a comprehensive modernisation programme by the JCAA.

He said the new facility will, among other things, make Jamaica’s delivery of air-navigation services more reliable; boost the island’s thrust to establish an aviation hub, and enable a cadre of skilled and highly trained air traffic controllers.

Chief Air Traffic Controller at the Norman Manley International Airport, Mark Phillips, says the new tower, which spans approximately 8,000 sq. ft. of land, will aid the JCAA in its commitment to the safe, orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic within the island’s airspace.

“It will improve the reliability of our services. The tower is also the first step that the Authority has taken in correcting deficiencies in equipment. We have brand-new equipment to aid in our services,” he said.

Phillips said the tower’s opening was opportune because air traffic is set to increase yearly by five per cent.

A new tower will be opened at the Sangster International Airport in short order.