In a recent decision, the U.S DOT denied applications by Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) and Fly Jamaica Airlines to offer direct flights from Georgetown (Guyana) to New York City. ALPA and Airlines for America (A4A) both opposed the applications.
“We are grateful that DOT agreed with our view and denied these applications by Fly Jamaica and Caribbean Airlines,” said ALPA President Capt. Lee Moak (pictured). “Relevant Open Skies agreements are premised on the ability of U.S. carriers to have a ‘fair and equal opportunity’ to compete, and the proposed seventh-freedom operations would clearly impede the ability of U.S. carriers to compete.”
In mid-July, Caribbean Airlines, an airline of Trinidad and Tobago, and Fly Jamaica Airways each applied for authority to operate seventh-freedom passenger flights between Georgetown, Guyana—which neither airline makes its home—and New York, JFK.
In its answer to the application, ALPA asserted that no compelling U.S. public interest would be served by granting this extra-bilateral authority. In addition, ALPA cited reports of a considerable fuel subsidy received by Caribbean Airlines from oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago. Officials from the country admitted that it does indeed provide a substantial yearly fuel subsidy to the airline.
The DOT agreed with ALPA and A4A and denied CAL and Fly Jamaica’s applications. While these carriers can and do operate fifth-freedom services, the DOT found that the carriers had not shown that there was a “truly demonstrable need” for the proposed services, and the services therefore did not meet the department’s public interest test for extra-bilateral seventh-freedom services.
In respect to scheduled international service, a fifth-freedom flight is one in which the airline carries traffic coming from or destined to a third country with a connecting service to its home country. A seventh-freedom flight is one in which the airline transports traffic between two countries with no connecting service to its home country.