By Cdr Bud Slabbaert
The Caribbean region is suffering from a borderline airlift disorder that produces the most intense chronic agony and distress in those who suffer from this condition which encompasses the functions of tourism, trade, commerce and social interaction.
Cdr Bud Slabbaert is the Chairman/Coordinator of the Caribbean Aviation Meetup
Airlift in the region appears to be in a continuous twilight-zone of dreaming and failure fueled by assumptions and imagination. Summits are held and committees are formed and the conclusions of the deliberations have the value of being flat, dull, or trite. The oratory is characterized by ordinary platitude. The headlines of the media coverage of the meetings are the same five years ago as the current ones which indicates that after the public exposure fades, things return to inaction and suffering in silence.
The Caribbean shouldn’t have an airlift problem. The firmament above the region is the same; the air that one breathes is the same. Taking to the skies seems to be a different ball game, though. For one, there is a people problem. People who create the problems and people who stand in the way of solving them. What boosts the problems are the persons who don’t know the heck what they are talking about, yet, having a deciding voice.
Secondly, the Caribbean is a quagmire of territories, jurisdictions and controls. Next. Try to define the Caribbean. The archipelago from Cuba to Trinidad? What about the coastal areas of Central America. Some add Bermuda and the Guiana’s. Statistics under the generic term ‘Caribbean’ are best defined as being a punchbowl?
The airlift problem is not the air or the sky. It’s not even the equipment or the needed skills for taking to the skies or navigating in the skies. Let me give you a hint of what constitutes the problem. French President Charles de Gaulle was famously quoted as once saying: “How can you govern a country that has 246 varieties of cheese?”
About a year and a half ago, a British aviation journalist suggested to me to take on the challenge of founding and leading a Caribbean aviation association. No way, not me. I am aware of the need of a body that should unite and assist in solving air transportation problems of various kinds. Yet, because of the complexity of matters and issues in the region it would near self-inflicted suffering when voluntarily taking on the mission without the necessary support. I neither have an acute masochist nor a serious Messiah complex. It only makes sense to take on the challenge when being assured of the support of like-minded persons or parties.
I decided on taking a different approach by first creating a mechanism for transformation in the form of an all-embracing platform for redemptive communication, aiming to develop and create results and solutions: the Caribbean Aviation Meetup. The Meetup is not an ordinary conference; it is a structure that shall be raised above the level of the surrounding environment of circumstances.
The objective is to rise above any cliché or dogma and enable the transition to a dimension of sustainable action. It may emphasize aviation but it also must embrace the impact on tourism and local economies. The Caribbean Aviation Meetup shall be characterized by generous amounts of latitude, altitude, and magnitude and having the height of anything above a current reference level.
The Caribbean Aviation Meetup is an initiative that accommodates a new attitude towards positive development and impact through freedom from narrow restrictions and freedom of action and opinion. It is the conference of those attending and having a vested interest in sharing and networking. It may be too much to expect reaching a galactic latitude, however great significance and consequence are within reach.