Automotive & Aviation
October 19th, 2020
Almost every sector has been heavily impacted by the Novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) but in spite of this, the Airport Strategy and Marketing (ASM) notes: “The consensus is that this pandemic will pass, and the industry will bounce back. History tells us that the aviation sector doubles every 15 years (IATA), even when period of crisis has hit such as 911, SARS, Global financial crisis etc.”
According to Emmanuel Baah, Deputy General Manager – Estates Planning and Business Development, Airports Authority of T&T, South Terminal, “T&T’s aviation industry saw a return to growth in 2019.” Airline seat capacity, into and out of the Piarco International Airport (POS), grew by 8.8% between 2018 and 2019. The volume of aircraft movements increased by 9%, rising from 38,588 to 42,266 and passenger movements at POS grew by 11.3% in that period.
Some highlights of 2019:
- Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) launched a new service between POS and Curaçao
- Commencement of work on an Airport Master Plan for POS; and
- Engagement of ASM to conduct a long-term traffic forecast for POS.
Impact of COVID-19
In May 2020, a survey conducted of businesses based at T&T’s airports reported that businesses had been adversely affected financially and that they were in jeopardy of not being able to continue operations if the borders remained closed for a prolonged period. By 16 July 2020, it was reported that over 300 employees of Swissport T&T would be retrenched with effect from August 2020.
Opportunities for growth
- Developing direct service to Europe
- New intra Caribbean services
Of all the world aviation developments in recent times, it is the development of new aircraft technologies that will have the most positive impact for airports like Piarco International. The new technologies such as the single-aisle A320 NEO’s and Boeings B737 MAX Jets that have been developed for extended range with increased fuel efficiency, making markets previously only achievable with long-range wide-body aircraft, a narrow body route.
On 26 May 2020, Amendments to the Motor Vehicle and Traffic Act 2017 were brought into effect. The Act, proclaimed by T&T’s President, Paula-Mae Weekes allows for the implementation of a Demerit Points System, New Traffic Ticketing System and Red Light Camera Enforcement System.
According to Visham Babwah, President of the T&T Automotive Dealers Association, “When the sector reopened after COVID-19 sales were a bit down, however it has picked up quite well. The reasons he gave for this were T&T’s 2020 general election and upcoming annual budget.
“Usually, before the budget there is an uptake in car sales due to the uncertainty of government policies changing with regard to taxes” stated Babwah. One challenge that the industry has, according to Babwah, came with the reduction of the age of importation of vehicles from six years to four years. “The impact on the industry was devastating” he said, “but we were able to deal with that by upping our game with regards to moving to hybrid and electric vehicles. This has placed us in a better position, even better than the franchise dealers.” According to the car dealer, something is now necessary to stimulate the industry. Babwah suggests changing the permissible age of importation from four years back to six. “The quality of the vehicle is the same, it will cost the consumers approximately $20,000 less and it will have a positive impact on foreign exchange because we will use less than half of the forex that we are currently using,” he said.