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VI needs to expand airport for direct flights- Bishop John I. Cline

- Said he opposed past tourism projects because NDP Gov't was not fiscally sound & transparent
In 2016, Bishop John I. Cline (right) said he is not in favour of the Airport Expansion Project at Beef Island at this time. Photo: VINO/File
The United Kingdon's post-Brexit phase starts officially on February 1, 2020. Photo: Internet Source
The United Kingdon's post-Brexit phase starts officially on February 1, 2020. Photo: Internet Source
Speaking to Government Information Service (GIS) on December 20, 2019 on the occasion of the historic landing at the Terrance B. International Airport of the Titan Airways Airbus a318 that had completed a flight from Canada directly to the Virgin Islands, Premier and Minister fo Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1) disclosed that the BVI Airports Authority (BVIPA) was in discussions with airlines with aircrafts such as the size of the Airbus a318 to make direct flights, with possible flights from the VI to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and then to Miami, USA, with a direct flight on return to the VI, ‘And some going from here straight to Miami and back.’ Photo: Team of Reporters
Speaking to Government Information Service (GIS) on December 20, 2019 on the occasion of the historic landing at the Terrance B. International Airport of the Titan Airways Airbus a318 that had completed a flight from Canada directly to the Virgin Islands, Premier and Minister fo Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1) disclosed that the BVI Airports Authority (BVIPA) was in discussions with airlines with aircrafts such as the size of the Airbus a318 to make direct flights, with possible flights from the VI to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and then to Miami, USA, with a direct flight on return to the VI, ‘And some going from here straight to Miami and back.’ Photo: Team of Reporters
Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1), has said the Virgin Islands would maximise ‘what is there’ before thinking about lengthening the runway of the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island. Photo: VINO/File
Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1), has said the Virgin Islands would maximise ‘what is there’ before thinking about lengthening the runway of the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - With the United Kingdom's post-Brexit phase starting officially on February 1, 2020, outspoken pastor of the New Life Baptist Church in Duffs Bottom, Tortola, Mr John I. Cline said the Virgin Islands (VI) should now focus on improving local industries with the aim of securing its future, as the UK severs ties with the European Union (EU).

"Tourism should be strengthened, and I believe that there's some efforts being made to strengthen our tourism product. It's a shame that for the last some twenty years, thirty years, the only new product we had is Scrub [Island Resort]... while the rest of the Caribbean is full speed ahead showing up their tourism product," Bishop John I. Cline said on the Tuesday, January 28, 2020, edition of the My BVI radio show. 

Strengthing VI for BREXIT 

Along with co-host, Dr Albert L. Thompkins, and former Mrs BVI, Angelle A. Cameron, the discussion surrounded the possible implications of BREXIT on the VI and how the Virgin Islands should react. 

According to Bishop Cline, with or without Brexit, the Territory ought to be thinking about ways to create more revenue streams that support the main financial services pillar.

"I was not one of those who was a great advocate for the airport in the past, but I have the right to change my mind," he said.

Mr Cline continued, "I felt that the previous government, they were nor fiscally responsible, we were not getting the information that we needed to make a proper public decision, in terms of why this is necessary with financial services on the decline."

Further, he said the National Democratic Party's (NDP) budget was increasing; however, yearly income continued to decline, "Who is going to pay for it? Tell us something, we are intelligent voters!" the man of the cloth charged. 

Direct Flights to Miami 

According to Bishop Cline, with past tourism projects under NDP, like its Anegada airport expansion project in particular, everything was being outsourced, "it was a concern, but these days when you see what's happening in Grenada, you can fly from Miami to Grenada."

He said just about every Caribbean island has direct flights to the US, with the exception of the Virgin Islands (VI) which is hampering the industry.

"And even though people are still coming, I believe that it would be a great asset to our tourism product and make it more even attractive, doing business outside of the tourism industry," he said.

Change of Heart 

Back in 2016, Bishop Cline threw a wet blanket on the much-touted airport expansion that was extensively pushed by the then Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr D. Orlando Smith and the Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, Dr Kedrick D. Pickering.

“There is a lot of talk about the airport, I am definitely not in favour of the airport, right now,” Bishop Cline said on the talk show Vigilate Dialog, hosted by Shaina M. Smith.

According to Bishop Cline, the then airport project is one that should be put on the back burner until such time that the Territory’s finances are in a better standing.

“I think for our tourist product what we need is a good concierge service. We meet them in St Thomas, when they get off that plane we rent a nice little lounge in St Thomas, we put them in there. The government invests in two wonderfully air-conditioned running on-time ferries with proper management,” Bishop Cline said back then.

Direct flights within a year

Premier and Minister of Fiannce, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1), has previously said the VI would maximise “what is there” before thinking about lengthening the runway, which he said remains an ongoing discussion.

Speaking to Government Information Service (GIS) on December 20, 2019 on the occasion of the historic landing at the Terrance B. International Airport of the Titan Airways Airbus a318 that had completed a flight from Canada directly to the Virgin Islands, Premier Fahie disclosed that the BVI Airports Authority (BVIPA) was in discussions with airlines with aircrafts such as the size of the Airbus a318 to make direct flights, with possible flights from the VI to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and then to Miami, USA, with a direct flight on return to the VI, “And some going from here straight to Miami and back.”

“So we are going to maximise what we have, to provide airlift from the VI to Canada, the US and other parts of the world,” Hon Fahie had said.

The Premier had also said the Virgin Islands would realise such flights within a year, adding that the expected increase in airlifts, particularly to Canada and the United States, would help to boost the VI’s tourism product, “it’s going to help our economy, it’s going to help diversify our economy in many ways.”

17 Responses to “VI needs to expand airport for direct flights- Bishop John I. Cline”

  • massa (29/01/2020, 14:29) Like (14) Dislike (1) Reply
    Look at him eating his words up, such a shame... ao many people was against Dr. Smith and his projects look at them now.
    • haters (29/01/2020, 18:18) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
      I just do not understand our people. When the NDP made the recommendation to do so the same VIP opposition was against it. Can we all stop hating so much.
  • DISAGREE (29/01/2020, 14:47) Like (6) Dislike (9) Reply
    What proof we have that a longer more improved strip would be successful and benefital... Both financially and socially....I am yet to see these proof. Just vague and hopeful wishful predictions....Proof like Airline contracts agreeing to come here twice a week from Miami and New York. Or UK. For a year with no change.. Not an agreement just to get the Strip longer and when the strip done we ain't see them coming... Yep.
    • Come On! (29/01/2020, 16:10) Like (7) Dislike (4) Reply
      If it's never built, we would never see the true potential...
      If it's built, only then will we see it's impact!
      #builditandtheywillcome
      • @Come on (29/01/2020, 18:45) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        @Come on, you are betting and gambling that build it/construct it and they will rush in. As E. Leonard noted below, it comes down to passenger loading. Here is a question for VI taxpayers. Should hundred of millions be expended on extending runway and improving the terminal hoping that airlines would rush to start a route and that route will be profitable and sustained? Indeed, it may be a good investment. It worked for Golden Rock in SKN. SKN extended its runway and improve its terminal; however, it was under utilized for an extended period but now it is flourishing. Should the BVI do likewise? Further, would a PPP or PPV happened without some certainty that its investment would be profitable?
      • WHY? (31/01/2020, 14:18) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        Why do you think if you build it they will come? It’ll be an expensive project with probable cost over runs, it’ll be expensive to fly directly, and visitors arriving pay to get in, and pay to get out, and deal with surly people. BVIs does not have a monopoly on sun, sea and beaches.
  • Best News (29/01/2020, 16:10) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
    Best news ever its so depressing to get to beautiful virgin islands
  • E. Leonard (29/01/2020, 17:20) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    Undoubtedly, extending the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport(TBLIA) runway and improving the land side facilities will enhance the airlift potential and capability and may strengthened and deepened the tourism product. However, this discussion comes to basic airline economics, ie, passenger loading. Every passenger and cargo flight that takes off and land has a fix cost that is typically covered by paying passengers and freight on cargo.

    In regards to passenger flights, it comes down to passenger loading. No airline is going to start a flight if the passenger loading is not there to turn a profit and even if an airline starts a flight, if the passenger loading is not there to turn a profit, it will discontinue the flight. The article mention direct flight; was nonstop flight intended, for there is a difference between direct flights and nonstop flights? For example, a direct flight would fly from Miami (MIA)to Puerto Rico (SJU) and then on to TBLIA (EIS). On the other hand, a non-stop flight, will fly from MIA to EIS. Assuming that land and air sides of TBLIA are improved, the territory still needs more tourist facilities, ie, 5 star hotels (more beds for heads), attractions........etc.
    • Disinterested (29/01/2020, 19:23) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
      We need non-stop flights. I want to jump aboard at JFK or MIA or London or Toronto or Atlanta and jump off at Beef Island. Why is that so hard to do? Tired of going around the world, taking all day to get home. If St. Thomas can build a extended runway and have direct/non-stop flights why can’t Tortola?
  • Toronto (29/01/2020, 18:40) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    And meanwhile there are daily and/or weekly non-stop flights from Toronto to the following Sun Destinations (listed below). Born and raised in Tortola I have been hearing about the possibility of Airport Expansion since The Late H.L. Stoutt days. It's a reason why several of the Islands mentioned below have decades of continued airlift between USA/Canada/UK. Mr. Premier you are plagued with consultants here and there in your face, have them get to work (if not doing so already), and submit to you a thorough Feasibility Study/Industry Analysis of the reality of Increased Airlift to the BVI.

    - Aruba
    - Antigua
    - Bahamas
    - Barbados
    - Cuba
    - Curacao
    - Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo, Punta Cana)
    - Grenada
    - Kingston, Jamaica
    - Montego Bay, Jamaica
    - St. Lucia
    - St. Maarten
    - Tobago (TAB)
    - Trinidad (POS)
  • musa (29/01/2020, 22:42) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is what we call a Christian community
  • musa (29/01/2020, 22:48) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Developing the air port and if the planes not coming used it for drag race and that will generate lot of business
  • SMH (30/01/2020, 07:42) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply

    This guy really said with a straight face NDP were reckless spenders and that the budget was too big but now that VIP is running things he is more comfortable with the development? Wasted millions and a $414 mil budget with ZERO plans? Things to make you smile. I wish the govt the best but hearing this guy spew this garbage is just mind blowing.

  • nonsense (30/01/2020, 13:42) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    where the people have no vision they perish. 2020 the year of sight vision and they can't see that our territory need this expansion. Not just for tourist but for the people in the territory especially those who have family members and children abroard. people look at the bigger picture. so many people travel go on vacation from right here in the BVI and where do they go through St.thomas. Why can't we just expand the damn airport. People always come to the BVI regardless. it will work. and a resourt on Beef island too. Government need to stop playing patty cake with this project and expand the airport what is the problem. sick of hearing about this airport business now.
  • Noises (30/01/2020, 17:33) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    The man not worth listening to.
  • BuzzBvi (31/01/2020, 12:06) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    There already is an airport with a long runway in the Virgin Islands. Ferry services to other islands nearby also. What is the problem?
  • Diaspora (02/02/2020, 09:01) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Reneging on prior held beliefs seems to be the order of the day. It is not a level playing field. What happens depends on the player and political philosophy. For example, different rules apply for President Obama and President Clinton than for President Trump. Hypocrisy to the fullest. Hypocrisy everywhere.


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