Policy Brief

Air Transport in the OECS : Flying Solo

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Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) countries faces two critical barriers for developing their infrastructure and connectivity: their conditions of island states and their geographic location in the Caribbean. Exchanges of goods and services with the rest of the world are limited to air and maritime transport modes, logistics costs are generally more expensive, and they face a disproportionate risk to natural disasters. This note will take a look to the air transport sector and the implications for the tourism sector. At the moment, international tourist arrivals in the OECS are dominated by cruise visitors, which are between 2.5 and 3 times more numerous than stay-over visitors. As a matter of fact, the growth and development of tourism throughout 2000-2011 is largely attributable to the increase in cruise ship passengers. The fact that OECS international tourism is currently tilted towards cruise-ship passengers creates an opportunity waiting to be grabbed, and has important implications for air connectivity. The inter-island system is wrought with inefficiencies and mixed connectivity. The inter-island air service operates in a challenging environment in which for some pairs of islands there is barely a flight connection in one or two days. Aiming to support a sector that is essential for their economies and develop a secure flow of tourist, some of the OECS countries provide subsidies to air transportation. The OECS has a high concentration of international airports within short distances. Most of the islands are receiving international tourists directly from their countries of origin instead of building a huband-spoke system that would optimize the regional investment in expensive air transport infrastructure.


Bofinger, Heinrich C.; Placci, Florencia Millan. 2013. Air transport in the OECS : flying solo. LAC opportunities for all ; no. 10. Washington DC : World Bank.


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