On the heels of the successfully concluded Routes Americas conference in Texas last week, Tourism Minister Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez has said that a number of concerns were raised by airlines in their discussions.
According to the minister, while many airlines expressed great interest in expanding routes to the region or introducing new ones, every airline had one concern in common: the region’s pandemic response and recovery plans.
This concern, the minister said, is justifiable as the profitability and viability of any route are key factors in considering whether to establish them. Another issue raised was that of government taxes applied to travelers. For years, both passengers and airlines have complained of the high, and widely variable taxation rate from territory to territory, which affects the overall cost of travel to the region.
“There’s still some concern as to whether the taxes are high inter-regionally traveling from one island to another island. “In addition to that they want to know how we are handling the pandemic – what’s the level of vaccination, when do we see we’re gonna look to remove the requirement for testing once people are vaccinated – these are concerns they have because they tell them how easy it is to sell to their clients,” Minister Fernandez explained.
Among the more successful meetings held by the Antigua/Barbuda delegation during Routes Americas 2022 were those with regional carriers Caribbean Airlines and Bahamas Air.
Minister Fernandez also reported that the team had been able to secure additional airlift into the country as a result of their negotiations with several airlines during the 15th to 17th February meetings.
These new routes, he said, will be revealed very shortly once all arrangements are finalised.