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KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) — The Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines (CAL) is to operate scheduled flights between the Piarco International Airport and the recently opened Argyle International Airport (AIA) in St Vincent, it has been officially announced.

AIA spokesperson Tabia Matthews, in a brief press statement said that the scheduled flights will operate on Fridays and Sundays and will offer passengers “connections to their other North American destinations”.

She could not say what type of aircraft will be used to provide the service, but CAL has been using its fleet of ATRs on its Barbados, St Lucia routes.

Matthews said that CAL has completed its operational setup and is currently conducting check-in, ticketing and baggage tests.

“Additionally, CAL is working towards opening a Cuban gateway, which will benefit a wide range of travellers, including students who are studying in Cuba. CAL’s cargo service is also expected to commence soon. The AIA team takes this opportunity to officially welcome Caribbean Airlines on board,” Matthews said.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves had, in the past, objected to CAL flying the same route as the regional airline, LIAT, because of the fuel subsidy that Port of Spain gave to the state-owned airline. But the subsidy was removed after LIAT secured a legal opinion that it contravened the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Treaty.

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Tourism Minister Cecil “Ces” McKie, said the island had been “fairly successful” in the discussions with international airlines to fly into the AIA, which opened on February 14 this year.

Responding to a question from Opposition Leader Godwin Friday as to which international airlines will be operating and the destinations they will serve, McKie said that over the past few years the government has been negotiating with airlines with a view to have them serving the island directly from international destinations.

“We have been fairly successful with these discussions and negotiations but I think that we are all aware of the fact that we cannot be premature in terms of our announcements of airlines coming to the destination, whether it be regular flights or otherwise. We have to make sure that we dot the I’s and cross the T’s and that’s what we will be doing,” McKie told lawmakers.

He said the Rallph Gonsalves government would be able to announce soon, arrangements with charters and other services for people coming here for the Carnival celebrations.

The tourism minister said the government has had discussions with British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Thomas Cook and Titan airlines from the United Kingdom. From Canada, they have had talks with Air Canada, West Jest, and Transat. In terms of airlines from the United States, the government has spoken with Dynamic Airlines, Swift Air, Miami Air, JetBlue, Caribbean Airlines, American Airlines and Easy Sky.

He said the Transport Security Administration of the United States, which has visited AIA has done the necessary briefings with the management of the airport.

“They have already begun to put things in place to correct some of these shortcomings, that … have been pointed out and, as I understand it, within 45 days, we should receive the report from them,” he said, adding that the government is also working along with airlines to receive the necessary clearance, if applicable, for them to fly directly to the destination “in terms of regular flights”.

McKie said his government is in discussions with various private entities about arranging charters.

“Preferably, we would like such arrangements to be organised by private entities. But, they also recognise the challenges and the difficulties, first to get aircraft and also the cost that these aircraft come at. And so, therefore, we are working closely with them to see if we can collaborate in any way, if we can offer support in any way, but, as it is now, the ministry is basically leading the charge in getting these charters in place.”

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(Barbados Today) Caribbean Community (CARICOM) private sector trade officials, uncertain about the future of trading with Britain after it leaves the European Union (EU) in 2019, are considering options that they can present to London post-Brexit.

A number of developmental agencies, regional bodies and government representatives are meeting at the Radisson Aquatica Resort in a forum on the implications of Brexit for the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), a trade deal between the European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific nations.

The United Kingdom (UK) accounts for about 21 per cent of total export to the EU. However, when the UK leaves Europe it will no longer be a party to the EPA, which was signed in October 2008, giving preferential trade deals to CARICOM member states.

In addition, EU leaders have made it clear Britain will not be allowed to reach any trade deals with third countries before there is clear progress on the terms of the break up.

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — The former Commonwealth secretary general, Sir Shridath Ramphal is urging the Guyana government to ensure that it secures all rights to its recently discovered oil sector before the decades-old standoff with Venezuela enters a new phase.

“But we have to prepare properly; we have to secure that oil. We have to get rid of the Venezuela issue, and we have to do all that, as the lawyers say, seriatim; one after the other,” the Guyana-born Ramphal told the state-owned Guyana Chronicle newspaper.

The border dispute between the two countries may be heading to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) if efforts by the United Nations to broker a deal by year-end, fails.

The newly-appointed United Nations Secretary General Personal Representative on the so-called Good Offices Process, Dag Halvor Nylander, a former Norwegian diplomat, is expected in Guyana next week to meet with officials on the border issue.

“By the end of the year, if it doesn’t yield satisfactory progress of a solution, then we go to the ICJ. So we can look ahead to 2018 seeing us in the court, which we hope will put an end to this evil,” said Ramphal, who is also an advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy.”

Guyana has been seeking to consolidate its oil and energy sector after the US oil giant, ExxonMobil recently announced that it had made another significant oil discovery on the Snoek Well offshore Guyana, in the Stabroek Block.

In February, ExxonMobil affiliate, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd. commenced drilling of the Snoek Well and encountered 82 feet of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone reservoirs.

Ramphal told the Guyana Chronicle newspaper that while the Good Offices Process would not have an immediate impact on oil explorations here, it is important to have the border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela resolved as soon as possible.

“Well, it wouldn’t have an impact now… The oil is not now; production is years away.

“But what we should do now is prepare for it; and because it is not a good time economically, people are impatient, inevitably,” Ramphal said, noting that the David Granger government is “on the right track” where preparatory works for the up-and-coming petroleum industry are concerned.

He said the foundational process includes the initiation of legislative and regulatory frameworks that would pave the way for a safe, productive and transparent petroleum sector.

“I am satisfied that the government is pursuing the course that it should be. It will take time, but preparing for an oil discovery of the magnitude that is involved in Guyana inevitably requires worldwide skills,” he said, adding that the government should capitalise on the experiences of other oil-producing countries.

Trinidad and Tobago, an oil producing country, has already indicated that intends to help its Caribbean Community (CARICOM) partner country take full advantage of the sector.

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley held talks with ExxonMobile senior executives in the United States last weekend and a statement issued afterwards quoted Rowley as saying that his country is ideally positioned to play a key role in assisting with Guyana’s hydrocarbon future.

“Our location, refinery, deep water harbours, access to markets and expertise in the energy sector all make us the best candidate for partnership with our neighbour,” the statement quoted him as saying during the talks with the senior ExxonMobil officials.

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(Jamaica Observer) At least one local manufacture and distribution company, GraceKennedy, is now contemplating the manufacture of corned beef at its local meat facility.

GraceKennedy’s decision to explore the manufacture of corned beef locally comes as Jamaica lifts the two-week-long ban on the importation and sales of corned beef from Brazil, a move which undoubtedly placed a dent in the revenues of the local distributors.

Chief executive officer of GraceKennedy, Don Wehby, in a press release yesterday announced plans to have its innovation team look at the requirements to have the company produce corned beef at GraceFood Processors in Savanna-La-Mar, Westmoreland.

Currently GraceKennedy’s Westmoreland plant manufactures a wide range of products, including Grace Vienna sausages, Grace frankfurters and Grace Country Pride ham. However, Wehby noted that, “It would be great if we could deliver to our consumers ‘Grace Bully Beef’ manufactured in Savanna-La-Mar, Jamaica.”

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(Reuters) A German judge has condemned the lack of transparency over Volkswagen's (VOWG_p.DE) emissions scandal and said the dearth of information was obstructing the settlement of a related case brought by a former employee of VW subsidiary Audi.

Ulrich Weiss, former head of diesel engine development at Audi, is suing the carmaker for wrongful dismissal and re-employment after he was fired in February after investigations into the scandal which broke in September 2015.

Audi has said a decision over whether Weiss could be re-employed cannot be taken until U.S. law firm Jones Day, hired by VW to investigate the scandal, has clarified his role and published a full report on its inquiries.

But parent VW, which initially had pledged maximum transparency, has since decided not to disclose the findings of Jones Day although key parts were compiled in the form of a "Statement of Facts" for the U.S. Department of Justice.

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