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American & United Airlines increase airlift to USVI

- still no direct flights to VI
According to the US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, demand for travel to the US Virgin Islands is surging and American Airlines and United Airlines are seeking to increase airlift to the Territory. Photo: Internet Source
BVI Airways flights between Miami International Airport, Florida, USA and Terrence B. Lettsome International on Beef Island, Virgin Islands were to start in October 2016 and despite many other dates proposed, no flights materialised. Photo: Internet Source
BVI Airways flights between Miami International Airport, Florida, USA and Terrence B. Lettsome International on Beef Island, Virgin Islands were to start in October 2016 and despite many other dates proposed, no flights materialised. Photo: Internet Source
 From left are Scott A. Weisman of BVI Airways, then Premier Dr D. Orlando Smith, Jerry D. Willoughby, the airline's President and CEO, Bruce F. Bradley of BVI Airways and then then Financial Secretary Neil M. Smith at the launch of the partnership between BVI Airways and the VI Government on January 12, 2016. Photo: VINO/File
From left are Scott A. Weisman of BVI Airways, then Premier Dr D. Orlando Smith, Jerry D. Willoughby, the airline's President and CEO, Bruce F. Bradley of BVI Airways and then then Financial Secretary Neil M. Smith at the launch of the partnership between BVI Airways and the VI Government on January 12, 2016. Photo: VINO/File
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St Thomas, USVI – According to the US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, demand for travel to the US Virgin Islands is surging.

The report, according to Caribbean Journal, came after a meeting between tourism and airline officials on the mainland last week.

After talks with United Airlines in Chicago and American Airlines in Dallas respectively, tourism commissioner designee Joseph B. Boschulte said there had been strong demand for seats to the territory’s airports on St Thomas and St Croix this past winter season, which is likely to result in additional capacity this winter season as well as the following summer.

Indeed, United is set to launch daily nonstop flights from Houston to St Thomas this summer, and would “also consider plans for new additional flights to St Thomas and St Croix the following summer,” he said.

“We have had some very important discussions about the future of airlift to the Territory and look forward to following up with our airline partners to ensure that we have adequate flights into our islands, especially as more accommodations come on line in the months ahead,” said Boschulte, who noted that United had already loaded new Saturday flights from Chicago to St Thomas before the upcoming winter season.

More flights under consideration

Boschulte also met with American Airlines in Dallas, with increased capacity from Chicago, Dallas and Miami all under consideration.

That’s along with the potential for growth out of the Charlotte hub, he said.

“”These meetings matter as we embark on a managed growth strategy through the full return of land-based tourism following the storms of 2017,” he said. “The travel and tourism sector is changing to meet its growth and is becoming more electronic and internet-based, but ironically, the more virtual it gets, the more important it is to regularly meet face-to-face with our partners,” Boschulte said.

Still no direct flights to the VI

Meanwhile, the Virgin Islands is yet to realise direct flights from the US mainland to Beef Island.

The former National Democratic Party (NDP) administration had failed in its bid to have this service established after their controversial deal with BVI Airways fell apart.

In December 2015, the then NDP government entered into an agreement with BVI Airways and injected into the foreign company $7 million, which then Premier and Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando Smith (AL) signed and said that it would be given incrementally over two years to help the company get off the ground.

However, within six months, not two years, BVI Airways had the full $7.2 M in hand with an increase of $200,000 fees for an account. According to the contract, the $7 million was supposed to act as a guarantee that BVI Airways got an annual return on investment of 20 percent in its first three years of existence.

In exchange, BVI Airways was to provide direct flights between Miami International Airport, Florida, USA and Terrence B. Lettsome International on Beef Island, VI.

The flights were to start in October 2016 and despite many other dates proposed, no flights materialised.

The saga had caused many internal fights among the then NDP elected representatives and members and some even said it might have been a factor in the party being booted from government at the February 25, 2019 General Elections.

4 Responses to “American & United Airlines increase airlift to USVI”

  • Nic (01/05/2019, 11:35) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Something must be done about that agreement between BVI Government and BVI Airways. How could they think that it is right to swindle a country out of $7M. Sometimes we see people suffering and committing suicide and it is as a result of the life they live and the things they do to others that come back to haunt them. They cannot sleep at nights and the only comfort is to die.
  • 123 (01/05/2019, 12:30) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    where is our 7 M ?
  • lodger (01/05/2019, 12:47) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    I suppose increased flights partly due to BVI tourists usung that route.
  • Hmm (01/05/2019, 20:38) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    AA & United too run down (the ones between here an New York)


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