Business aviation, women and the Caribbean

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By Cdr. Bud Slabbaert

CARIBAVIA has announced that it will hold its annual Caribbean Aviation Meetup conference in June 2021. It is not that a Caribbean conference is just for the stakeholders in the region. On the contrary. A Canadian company is involved in infrastructure improvements at several international airports in the region. French and Canadian companies are providing radar and electronic safety systems. The aircraft that are needed to provide airlift in the region are built in North- and South-America as well as in Europe. The largest executive ground handling provider present in the region is an Anglo/American company.

When acquainted with the economy dynamics and the culture of the region, there are definitely opportunities for foreign investment in the region that could be explored and especially in the high-end segment of both aviation and travel industry. It is not wise to judge the region by statistics for “Latin America AND the Caribbean”. The Caribbean has to be seen as a sub-region of its own. Depending on the selected island or territory, there may be a variety of opportunities. That applies to industrial, commercial and private investment occasions as well.

After Europe, the Caribbean is the second-most popular getaway for the wealthiest six percent of all travelers in North America. These are private aviation clients. The region needs to increase this number. On the other side, providers abroad need to reach out and help the region to accommodate this clientele and encourage the growth. If both find each other and cooperate, it will be a win-win situation.

Every passenger arriving on a private aircraft, is a potential investor in the region.

In 2021, special attention at the conference will be given to female aviation and travel professionals. Equality in the industry deserves extraordinary consideration. The industry has brilliant female experts that are outstanding performers. CARIBAVIA intends to highlight these specialists by letting them take the stage and make a presentation for the companies that they work for, or for their own independent activities.

In a spontaneous response from one of the ‘Ladies in Aviation’ who were approached regarding the formatting of the conference, she expressed, “I say go super radical and let us girls take the lead in chairing all the sessions that you do. Plan around our expertise. Any of us who are journalists (or ex journalists) can pretty much research ahead and chair a panel as that is in our DNA. You have pilots, expert marketers and amazing women who run FBOs included in this list. That way if there is another woman or two on the panels so be it. Visibility is key. Even go super-super radical and have all the chairs be women of color, preferably local and get the rest of us to speak across your panels. We have good stuff to say and to offer.”

The conference may not be created quite as super-radical as is called for. CARIBAVIA tends to be a trend setting initiative where it is recognized that many Executive Assistants who are relied upon by executives are female, and often their discrete advice behind the scenes is followed. Woman are very often the frontline workers in the aviation, travel and tourism industries who make things happen. Empowered women are enthusiastic, mindful, purposeful, optimistic, willful, encouraging, respectful, enlightened and dedicated. They have the needed typical characteristics in dealing with matters varying from customer services to management: sensitivity, assertiveness, care, empathy, passion, faith, adaptability, courage, and they have the ability of multi-tasking.

The 2021 CARIBAVIA conference will be unique because of giving special attention to the combination of private and business aviation, courting a high-end clientele, and highlighting the outstanding performance of women. CARIBAVIA is a serious communication platform for aviation and travel professionals that is held in the exotic tropical setting of the Caribbean. For the Caribbean, airlift to the various island destinations is crucial. A relaxing atmosphere just makes it easier for people to communicate. That is why this is the ideal location to discuss all issues around aviation, travel and airlift. To reach the attractive island destinations, flight connections and aircraft charter services are important; airport, FBO, maintenance, fuel supply and other aviation related services are essential.

Some participants may even want to spend an extra weekend in the Caribbean. CARIBAVIA will take place June 15-17, 2021 on St.Maarten.