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06BRIDGETOWN578 2006-04-04 12:38:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Bridgetown
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1. (U) SUMMARY: In an official ceremony on March 24,
organized by the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority,
Ambassador Kramer presented the organization with Category
One status on behalf of the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration. This classification could open the way for
regional airlines to increase service to the U.S., both in
terms of number of flights and cities served, thus improving
the earning potential of these tourism-based economies. End

2. (U) On March 24 Ambassador Kramer presented the
Organization of Eastern Caribbean States' (OECS) Eastern
Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) with U.S. Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) Category One status at a formal
ceremony in Antigua. Other dignitaries at the presentation
included the Prime Ministers from St. Vincent and the
Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda, as well as the Director
General of the OECS, and representatives from the UN's
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the

3. (U) Note: Category One status applies to flight safety
oversight demonstrating that the regulating authority, in
this case the ECCAA, is ensuring that airlines are training
their crews and maintaining their planes according to
international standards. Category One status does not apply
to aviation security issues such as physical security at
airports or security screening of passengers and baggage.
End Note.



4. (U) The official presentation included statements by
Antigua's PM Baldwin Spencer, OECS Director General Dr. Len
Ishmael, ECCAA and ICAO representatives, and a feature
address by St. Vincent's PM Ralph Gonsalves, in his current
role as Chairman of the OECS Authority. Near the end of the
two-hour ceremony, Ambassador Kramer formally presented the
ECCAA with a letter conferring U.S. FAA Category One status.

5. (U) The Ambassador's brief comments emphasized regional
cooperation to achieve national goals and praised the OECS
and ECCAA for their hard work and dedication in regaining
Category One status. The lengthy ceremony highlighted the
importance of this achievement to these small
tourism-dependent island states. The OECS has been working
for 10 years to regain this status, lost in June 1996 when
the FAA downgraded it after an International Aviation Safety

6. (SBU) Attaining Category One status will give OECS
carrier LIAT the opportunity to increase the frequency of its
flights to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and enable
both LIAT and Caribbean Star to begin new routes to the U.S.
as well. (Note: A reliable Embassy contact in Antigua
indicated "close-hold" that Caribbean Star owner R. Allen
Stanford may be in the market to acquire a couple of jets for
his airline. Category One status combined with successful
bids to begin routes to major U.S. locations could justify
the expense. The airline's own press release March 27 lauded
the new Category One status as an important achievement
supporting its "already aggressive expansion plans." End



7. (U) In addition to enabling regional airlines to increase
their service to one of their largest and most lucrative
markets, achieving Category One status is a concrete positive
result of regional cooperation. Such coordination is
critical to the long-term prospects of these small,
vulnerable states of the Eastern Caribbean. In the near
term, the OECS governments can build on this success to
handle security, immigration, and trade preparations for the
March 2007 Cricket World Cup and the ongoing integration of
the OECS into the Caribbean Single Market and Economy.