Updated: September 2019
Described as vibrant and well-established, Trinidad and Tobago’s aviation sector has seen many initiatives for the period 2018-2019.
- Trinidad and Tobago is monitoring Venezuela’s socioeconomic crisis because it is affecting airlines’ ability to operate in the Latin American country. Some airlines have already pulled out of the territory. According to Emmanuel Baah, Acting Deputy General Manager for Estate and Business Development at the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (AATT), “COPA, American Airlines and Delta have stopped servicing Venezuela.” As a result, many Venezuelans are journeying to Trinidad and Tobago in order to connect to flights.
- Electricity problems in Venezuela are adversely affecting smaller airlines still operating there, which negatively impacts the passenger experience. As a result, travel to Venezuela and Margarita – major tourist destinations, especially for Trinidadians and Tobagonians – has decreased.
- Statistics show that Trinidadians and Tobagonians are travelling more to destinations such as Cancun, Panama and the Dominican Republic. The table below shows a comparison of the number of persons who travelled from Trinidad and Tobago to Margarita, Cancun and the Dominican Republic between 2013 and 2018.
- Recognising the new travel trend, in February 2019, AATT visited Panama and met with officials from COPA Airlines and other companies that operate there. Later this year, AATT will meet with Panama’s Tourism Authority to discuss co-operation between Panama and Trinidad and Tobago. In an attempt to strengthen ties between both destinations, local officials will discuss the possibility of tours to Trinidad and Tobago.
- While there has been a small dip in travel due to job losses (especially at Petrotrin) and smaller amounts of disposable income, recent development in Guyana’s oil and gas sector could result in more job opportunities for Trinidadians and Tobagonians. Many helicopter operators are visiting Trinidad and Tobago so helicopter operators in this country now have opportunities to provide service to foreign companies that operate in Guyana. This will ultimately result in the growth of the aviation sector.
The AATT has introduced a new automated parking system to give patrons a user-friendly interface and a more efficient processing system that facilitates added convenience, safer transactions and reduced queuing. The new system features a guidance component that uses strategically placed solar-powered devices to indicate available parking spots within designated zones. This enables drivers to find parking in a hassle-free manner. Further, a modern, parking revenue control system (which is also used at Miami International Airport, London Gatwick Airport, Montego Bay and Barcelona Airport) has been introduced.
Soon, e-Gate, which is aimed at enhancing security and enabling easier checks on boarding passes, will be introduced. In keeping with AATT’s vision to lead diverse and innovative aviation business in the region, Baah has indicated that other initiatives will be implemented shortly.
The new Tobago airport is also going ahead as planned. The National Infrastructure Development Company Limited (NIDCO) is the executing agency and there will be facilities for growth as tourism in Tobago expands.
As for air service development, Sunwing Travel Group (a vertically integrated travel company which operates an airline, travel agencies, tours and hotels) started flights to Tobago last year. According to Baah, Sunwing has started managing the former Rex Turtle Hotel (rebranded to Starfish) and they also plan to invest in another hotel in Tobago in order to bring a higher-end brand to the sister isle. This venture will increase visitor arrivals to Tobago. This is exciting for Tobagonians since Sunwing also started investing in Cuba some time ago and the number of visitors there rose to one million a year.
Since Sunwing started operating in Tobago in December 2018, the international visitor movement has increased tremendously. If the trend continues, arrivals should increase by 6%.
The Government’s role in the expansion of the sector is evident in its support of Caribbean Airlines Limited’s (CAL’s) fleet expansion. Apart from Max 8, CAL is looking into bringing in four new ATRs at the end of 2019. In its 2019 budget, the Government announced that a new terminal will be constructed at the ANR Robinson International Airport to facilitate increased travel demand. The project is set to be completed by 2020.
In Trinidad and Tobago, although the change to compressed natural gas (CNG) is slow in coming, greater effort is being made to encourage citizens to make the switch. The Government showed its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint through the construction of what is proposed to be the largest multifuel service station in the Caribbean.
In early May, Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, the Honourable Franklin Khan, turned sod for the construction of the flagship service station in Preysal, Couva. Details of the project include:
- The initiative is a collaboration between the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGC), NGC CNG and Trinidad and Tobago National Petroleum Marketing Company Limited (NP)
- It will be done at the cost of TT$30 million
- Phase one is expected to be completed by the end of the year
- This 24/7 state-of-the-art facility (with a convenience store) will be equipped with solar panels and 20 dispensing points
- 10 dispensing points are for CNG vehicles of all classes
At the sod-turning ceremony, Khan indicated that changes from 2015 baseline figures were as follows:
- There was a 98% increase in 2018 CNG volume sales of 5,296,471 litres gasoline equivalent (lge) from 2015 baseline figure of 2,667,780 lge.
- There was a fourfold increase of the number of CNG vehicle conversions of 6,432 vehicles in 2018 in comparison to 2015 vehicle conversions of 1,500.
- Based on its market analysis, the NGC CNG projects 806new vehicle sales (original equipment manufacturer (OEM)) and 2,694 vehicle conversions for calendar year 2019.
Government’s commitment is further evidenced by its approval of CNG fiscal initiatives. One such initiative, according to the Minister, was the “removal of import duty on components for the retrofit of vehicles to use CNG and for non-business use, 25% tax credit for conversion cost up to a limit of TT$2,500 per vehicle.” The Minister estimated that the programme would cost TT$2 billion. “Of this,” he noted, “TT$1.4 million will be allocated for the conversion of 100,000 vehicles, TT$552 million for the construction of 72 CNG stations and TT$55 million for the ancillary costs which include public education and marketing, provision of mobile CNG stations, expert and technical support and Radio Frequency Identification system.”
Other automotive updates:
- Super gasoline increased from TT$3.97 per litre to TT$4.97 per litre. Diesel fuel remained at TT$2.41 and premium also remained unaffected at TT$5.75 per litre.
- Electric and hybrid vehicle sales have increased and P&V Marketing, a Chaguanas-based dealership, has seen many buyers as the company offers new and used hybrid vehicles and after-sales services on such vehicles.
- The last-minute rush following the end of a moratorium on the inspection of vehicles (on December 31st, 2018) has since eased.