Several regional air carriers have expressed interest in introducing flights into Belize. The discussions were initiated when Minister of Civil Aviation, Andre Perez and Minister of Tourism, Anthony Mahler held talks abroad recently. According to Minister Perez, among those air carriers are Volaris and Viva from Mexico. He told us that the Mexican airlines are looking to keep rates below two hundred US dollars per round trip from Belize to Mexico.
Andre Perez, Minister of Civil Aviation and Blue Economy: “Minister Mahler and I travelled to the city of Mexico and to London to have talks with the different type of airlines. For example Mexico City we had talks with Volaris and Viva which are two aircraft carriers that want to come to Belize out of Mexico City. One of the things that we need to highlight here is that these aircraft carriers have been travelling – they do flights all over Central America. They just recently sealed off another one with Honduras so basically the only country remaining in Central America for flights to come from Mexico City is Belize. But as it was made clear by the airlines they are engaged not only in what is yield but rather volume. So volume means they want to mobilize as much traffic as possible with passengers at the least cost possible. So they’re talking about we’re having a round trip from Mexico City to Belize it is less than an hour and a half from Mexico City to Belize but they do not want to charge more than $200 US round trip. Anything beyond that is not feasible for them. So what does that translate is that our country in the quest for liberalizing is that perhaps we need to look back at the regime of the departure tax and the arrival tax that we do here in our country. We have to be more liberalized we have to be more open to change and this is something we have voiced in Cabinet that we have to be more open and it goes back to our aims for the Department of Civil Aviation that we’re modernizing and that means that all stakeholders involved must join us as well. We are not longer a government that is just sitting on our laurels or being bureaucratic we need to cut across that flat. We need to really become more lean and to move forward. If the government of the day is showing the political will, if the government of the day is showing that we’re moving in direction that is very proactive we expect everyone else involved to tow in line and I’m referring to every single stakeholder involved in the aviation industry being the aircraft carriers, be it other government departments, we’re talking about even the concessionary groups that are incharge of the airports all of these must listen, work with us, that if we are to grow our industry and modernize we have to liberalize and that is really the endgame and the goal of what the Department of Civil Aviation is doing.”
As a follow up to those meetings, Minister Perez says the government will be looking to streamline its tax structure for regional flights. Additionally, he noted that talks are also happening over the expansion of the Philip Goldson International Airport.
Andre Perez, Minister of Civil Aviation and Blue Economy: “If there is anything we need to decrease. We need to look at the tax regime. We’re not saying anything specific here we’re going to be cutting but we’re saying that along with the Ministry of Civil Aviation as well as the Ministry of Tourism because remember this is a joint effort that we’re doing. This is not only the Ministry of Civil Aviation it’s a collaborative effort between two sister ministries that we’re saying we need to liberalize, we need to look at the tax regime. There are certain things that we need to question where these monies are going. So that is certainly something that we need to look at and if we are going to cater to the region, I’m talking about Central America including Mexico and the Caribbean I think we need to look at it from a different angle as opposed to other international airlines coming from other main countries. Even South America we have yet to tap that market over there as well but I certainly don’t want to say at this time that we’re gonna be cutting it but I’m saying that our government is looking at that. So as we liberalize, as we are modernizing, we have to be competitive then we need to look back at our tax regime. We are already clocking eighteen flights in one day I think the history will show that at the PGIA the highest ever recorded one day was twenty three flights so for next year we certainly expect to surpass the amount of flights coming in on day and looking for more airlines for us is going to happen. More than likely the quicker one to happen is the flights coming out of Mexico City that is going to happen earlier this year than expected and of course we continue relentlessly pursuing that trans Atlantic flight that is coming from up in Europe so we’re aggressively pursuing all these main carriers that are up in Europe that want to come to Belize but obviously we must be realistic as well that no trans Atlantic flight is going to come directly to Belize to return back, they need to be linking up with the res of the other countries. So that is also another strategic point that we from the Ministry of Civil Aviation are looking at as well to establish. So the issue right now is working along with the PGIA, that expansion needs to happen as quickly as possible, we need to expand that taxiway for those planes landing. All of these things are looking expanding which we already have secured the property to increase the size of the PGIA as well so that’s another issue that we from government are dealing with as well.”