CASTRIES, Saint Lucia – The Saint Lucia Government welcomes the news of Caribbean Airlines’ expanding commitment to serve the intra-regional travel market.
Responding to plans by the Trinidad and Tobago airline to start a regional commuter service using newly delivered ATR aircraft, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Senator Allen Chastanet said Saint Lucia and its neighbors should benefit greatly from this new development.
“For the last three years, we have invested significant marketing resources into all of our major markets, but the intra-Caribbean market has not kept pace with the record growth we have experienced in the US and Canada for example,” Senator Chastanet explained, attributing the deep declines in regional business to high airfares, limited seat capacity and unpredictable schedule changes.
“We are committed to welcoming as many new airlines to the destination as possible because where we have increased seat capacity, we have seen competitive air fares, strong demand and growth,” the Minister added, announcing that talks with Caribbean Airlines will recommence soonest.
“We have been in discussions with Caribbean Airlines for many years and we were one of the first destinations to let them know that we are anxious for them to recommence services to Saint Lucia,” the Senator added. He noted that Trinidad is an important market to Saint Lucia and the Piarco International Airport a strategic hub for connections to and from Latin America.
Senator Chastanet said the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia and his cabinet have embraced the CARICOM Multilateral Air Services Agreement and have been working diligently on getting CARICOM Airways, a Suriname-based carrier, off the ground in Saint Lucia. “We have a long history of embracing the region’s carriers,” he said, recalling that both BWIA and Air Jamaica were designated Saint Lucia flag carriers in years past to better service the UK and US markets respectively. “We’ve recently bestowed this designation on CARICOM Airways as well.”
Saint Lucia, which registered record stay-over tourism arrivals and revenue last year, is establishing Hewanorra International Airport in the south of the island as a major Caribbean hub to provide connections to and from its sister islands of Grenada, St. Vincent, Martinique and Dominica, given the strength of scheduled nonstop services to the island from New York, Miami, Atlanta, Toronto, London, and most recently Paris and Frankfurt.
The Government has also improved transit policies to allow anyone transiting Saint Lucia within 24 hours to do so without paying departure taxes or in-transit fees.
The Senator disclosed that in addition to Caribbean Airlines and CARICOM Airways, the Government is in negotiation with American Eagle to commence services between Barbados and Saint Lucia. “We’re excited about the future possibilities,” said Senator Chastanet, who also hinted that the resumption of the Air Jamaica hub service between Montego Bay and the island was also of interest to the Government of Saint Lucia.