A number of major airlines have expressed interest in making St. Vincent and the Grenadines a destination on their flight lists when the international airport is completed.
Minister of Tourism Glen Beache made this announcement on Tuesday, September 28, at a press conference, following his return from a two-and-a-half week trip to Venezuela and Canada.
“I can guarantee this, that we will have at least one major airline coming in from each of the big three countries. When I say that, I mean Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.”
The Minister was speaking about feedback from executives of West Jet Airlines, Jet Blue, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airlines, among others, following a number of trade shows in Canada.
Beache, who was accompanied by a number of the Ministry’s overseas public relations and consultant agencies, indicated that he was pleased that the general consensus of the airlines’ spokespersons and with whom they interacted was that they are enthused excited about the progress and promise of the airport, which is being constructed in Argyle and is slated to open in April 2012.
“I think out of all the meetings that took place, British Airways was the most promising,” the Minister said.
“I think if we had finished negotiations in terms of certain things being put in place, British Airways was ready to sign on the dotted line. As a matter of fact, they would be here around the end of November to meet with me… they are looking at two flights into St. Vincent and the Grenadines per week, and these flights will be tagged.”
“West Jet out of Canada was very positive, and I must say I was very impressed with our discussions with them.”
According to Beache, one of the major selling points to the airlines was the current work being done with the Buccama project, with other tourism developments in Canouan and other Grenadine islands.
He said that the possibility that this country could become a hub for Piano Cruises may become a reality, following talks he had with its parent company TUI Travel PLC.
He said that this means that their chartered flights will be coming into St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which will be a positive investment in the country.
“It just goes to show you all [what] that this international airport can do and is doing for the development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and it puts us on the map.”
“It shows you the magnitude and what it means, because there are many people who have made it clear that St. Vincent and the Grenadines will not develop unless the construction of this airport takes place.”
“I know there have been talks from some people that this airport is not serious because we haven’t started negotiating with the airlines. Let me make this clear, we have been negotiating with the airlines for approximately four to five years, and I think that shows in what took place in Vancouver. We have a lot more negotiation to do, but I think this step is significant, and I think the response we received was positive, and we are looking for great things to come.”
The Minister also announced that talks with Venezuelan officials may soon produce more direct flights between the two countries, and that the officials there have also offered to mediate with Spain’s national airline Iberia.
He also said that the two countries will also look at the possibility of working closely on a number of issues, including the development of that country’s community tourism product and the installation of a cable car system to run to and from La Soufriere.
“We have our strengths and weaknesses here. They have their strengths and weaknesses there. It’s a matter of us just trying to help each other out and see how we can work together.”(JJ - SEARCHLIGHT)
Article Compliments Searchlight Newspaper!