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Jun 1, 2020

Local Pilots Say IATA Can’t Say When P.G.I.A. Should Reopen

Ravei Nunez

The announcement that the P.G.I.A. will not reopen on July first triggered further shocks in the already weakened tourism industry.  Last Thursday, the Government of Belize was set to announce the reopening of the Philip Goldson International Airport on July first.  Just a few hours before addressing the nation in a scheduled virtual press conference, PM Barrow was informed by the International Air Travel Association, also known as IATA, that strict measures ought to be put in place ahead of resuming operations at the P.G.I.A.   Those measures include the use of rapid testing to determine the medical condition of passengers prior to departure for Belize, where COVID-19 is concerned.  But a local group of pilots and aviators is refuting the position that the prime minister has taken, as well as his rationale for delaying the reopening of the international airport.  They say that it is not within IATA’s mandate to determine how and when a country can open up its airport to international arrivals.


Ravei Nunez, Dep. Dir. Operations, Tropic Air

“As stated in the letter that we had sent to the media, the pilot corps, Tropic Air to some extent, and I cant speak on behalf of Maya had some concerns about the way in which the prime ministers press conference was reported, in terms of his stance with regards to IATA and IATAs impact on governments decision to keep the airport closed.  IATA has no mandate to impose on governments what procedures and policies they should put in place to maintain the safety of aviation or their population.  IATA, in this instance, only gives recommendations and/or guidelines and in none of their recommendations and/or guidelines did they put in place that we have to have a rapid test kit as a prerequisite to opening the airport.”


Isani Cayetano

“In speaking on behalf of Tropic Air at this point, are you guys facing perhaps another round of layoffs should this scenario play out in the manner in which it is?”


Ravei Nunez

“We’re facing uncertainty.  Uncertainty in terms of when the industry will restart, uncertainty of when the international airport will open.  We’ve predicated our future, and this is as a country, not just Tropic Air, we’ve predicated our future on the hope that a rapid test kit can be developed, the hope that some immunity passport can be developed.  Any business persons, anybody who’s involved in the private sector will tell you that that type of uncertainty doesn’t bode well for business in general.  As an individual, speaking to people out there, speaking to fellow pilots and other Belizeans, that type of uncertainty for them doesn’t bode well either, because yes, I benefit directly from tourism but there are other people who benefit indirectly as well and not knowing when they can return to some semblance of normalcy in terms of the finances that they generate doesn’t bode well for them down the road.  So continuing to make cuts can only last for that much longer before at some point you abandon whatever it is that you are involved with.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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