Vaughn College took on a decidedly Caribbean flavor on Wednesday (June 29) when more than a dozen graduate students from Trinidad and Tobago visited the College as part of a weeklong tour of New York City.
The students and their advisers, part of the University of the West Indies graduate program in aviation management, met with Vaughn faculty, played an informational video and took questions in the faculty conference room. Their visit followed a stop at LaGuardia Airport and came before a harbor cruise at night.
Trinidad and Tobago, a two-island republic not far from Venezuela, is home to 1.3 million. It boasts an emerging economy and a robust aviation industry thanks to the country’s energy independence. Oil and natural gas are in such abundant supply that jet fuel is less than half the price of that in the United States.
It boasts an international airport on both islands—Tobago is the smaller of the two—that combine to service more than 4 million passengers, some from as far away as London.
“It’s an attractive place to visit,” said student adviser Wendy Fawcett Williams, the customer service manager for Trinidad’s airport, Piarco International. “It helps the industry even more that the price of fuel is so much less costly. Airlines that come south want to stop there and refuel.”
However, those inexpensive fuel costs do present challenges for the nation’s aviation industry. Government-subsidized fuel policies prioritize the national airline, Caribbean Airlines, leaving little room for competition and stifling job growth.
“It’s one major company and they may take only a few pilots every three or four years,” Caribbean Airlines pilot and graduate student Ameer Ali said. “It’s hard for other carriers to compete with the national airline.”