Caribbean Challenges

Airlines in the region face a volatile mix of small island populations, high taxation, economic and political issues. Chris Kjelgaard reports.

The arrival of a KLM Boeing 747-400 on final approach to Princess Juliana International Airport on the island of Saint Martin always draws a crowd as they thunder over the heads of sunbathers on Maho Beach.

Almost 700 islands, islets, reefs and cays (a sandy island on the surface of a coral reef) are sprinkled over more than a million square miles of the Caribbean Sea. Yet its many nations and territories almost exclusively boast populations no larger than those of a medium-sized US city. Each nation has its own unique air transport access requirements, a fact highlighted at the recent ‘Caribbean Aviation Meetup’, a forum looking at the challenges and opportunities facing the region’s aviation industry. The event held in Roseau, the capital of Dominica, explored why it is often more difficult, expensive and time-consuming to fly between different islands than to travel between the Caribbean and North America or Europe.

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