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Carib World News - snippets May 2020

St Lucia opening up to the USA

If you’re ready to venture outside the U.S., the Caribbean island nation of St Lucia is ready to welcome you, beginning on June 4.

Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee recently announced a phased reopening the country for tourism. During Phase One, St. Lucia will only accept visitors from the United States from June 4 through July 31. If all goes as planned, Phase Two will begin August 1. The details of Phase Two will be disclosed in coming weeks.

“Our new protocols have been carefully crafted,” Fedee said, “and will build confidence among travelers and our citizens. The Government of Saint Lucia remains resolved to protect both lives and livelihoods as it jump-starts its economy.”

Delta Air Lines - Caribbean flights

The greatest changes in Delta’s schedule for June comes in Latin America and the Caribbean. While many of the resumed flights are less than daily and will only start in the second half of June, the number of total destinations will increase from six to 26. The Atlanta-based airline will return to South America with less than daily flights from Atlanta to Bogota, Colombia and Sao Paulo.

The carrier will also increase flights to Mexico with the resumption of service to popular vacation destinations including: Cancun, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. Delta’s largest hub in Atlanta also sees the reintroduction to popular Caribbean destinations with the resumption of flights to Aruba; Bermuda; Bonaire; Kingston, Jamaica; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic just to name a few. 

Aviation pundits are calling for a major upgrade to regional carrier, LIAT.

The struggling airline’s finances have seen a string of meetings held with regional shareholders in an effort to keep LIAT afloat.

James Lynch, an aviation consultant in Canada, is adamant that LIAT needs to improve its professional management or the company will collapse.

“I have been saying this over a decade now about what LIAT needs [and] that is professional management,” he said. “You cannot have an accountant with no previous aviation experience directing the airline. That is just madness, craziness. Politicians direct the airline through political appointees who have no qualifications and no experience running an airline and it’s a definition of insanity with doing the same thing every year and expecting a different result. This is insanity what is going on with LIAT for 50 years.

“Bear in mind that LIAT has not made public their annual accounts for about 40 years.”

Former chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority (ABAA) Gatesworth James also weighed in on the conversation saying the issue of the high taxation on tickets will continue to deter people from flying with LIAT. He is blaming government officials around the region of manipulating airfares.

“They figured that they can make money in addition to their ticket taxes. They can make money very easily that way. In my mind, they have really rigged the travelling public in the Caribbean [and] for us to get people to travel again there has to be a serious look at those taxes.

“I never agreed with Prime Minister [Gaston] Browne when he said it takes a year or something to get this thing off. I think that this could be done but it’s going to need a collective working together of Caricom people to understand that those fares are not going to induce travel at all. The only institution that will feel the brunt is LIAT,” he added.

Brian Challenger, an aviation consultant and former CEO of LIAT, is of the opinion that the Covid-19 pandemic has shed light on a number of issues affecting the carrier. He says this is an opportune time to look at addressing them and even hinted at the idea of a major downscale and alliance with other regional carriers.


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Caribbean Tourism 2020