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LIAT makes inaugural trip to Canouan

LIAT makes inaugural trip to Canouan

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by Jamila Soso-Vincent 13.MAR.09

Canouan had much to celebrate on Tuesday, March 10th, as it officially welcomed the inaugural LIAT flight to that Grenadine island, making it the 22nd destination that the airline travels to.{{more}}

The celebration included a ribbon cutting ceremony, with Miss Carival 2008 Ronique Dellimore doing the honours, and a water canon salute as the aircraft taxied up the runway.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, obviously pleased at the development, announced: “I want to congratulate LIAT for coming to Canouan, and we are all very grateful here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.” Gonsalves added that when everything is put in context, the region needs to fully appreciate LIAT’s role. “This is a small region. It has tremendous potential… We need to work together!” He further expressed a keen belief that this new route will make a positive difference to the lives of Canouan’s residents, and Vincentians on a whole.

Gonsalves recalled that he and his government came under heavy criticism for investing in LIAT when it was experiencing financial difficulty. However, his decision now appears justified following the fraud charges that have been made against billionaire Sir R. Allen Stanford, who previously sought to buy out the airline. Gonsalves was quick to point out that although he is not casting aspersions or judgement on Stanford’s character, he felt he should point out what a dire predicament the region might have been in had the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines not intervened.

Giving remarks, Minister of Tourism Glen Beache asserted that this venture demonstrates the Government’s commitment to Tourism in SVG. “If there has ever been a doubt in the minds of Vincentians… that Tourism is a priority within this country, there should no longer be that doubt.”

Beache also declared: “Without LIAT, there is no regional tourism” – a sentiment that Dr Jean Holder, Chairman of LIAT (1974) Ltd, shared. With 53 years of providing safe travel within the region, Holder pointed out that LIAT is a vital tool for regional integration. “LIAT is the glue that holds us all together.”

Acknowledging the global economic crisis, Holder expressed his pleasure at LIAT being able to expand its service to customers whilst other airlines have been forced to cut back. Referring to SVG as “a tremendous tourism product waiting to be discovered by the world,” Holder welcomed Canouan to the fold.

Mark Darby, Chief Executive Officer of LIAT, related that Canouan had been chosen as a destination because it offers a unique tourism product and has the potential to facilitate a mutually beneficial partnership between LIAT and the people of Canouan.

Following the renovation and upgrading of the airport to a jetport in 2008, Canouan Airport has been able to accommodate larger aircraft in a more secure and reliable manner. According to Director General of Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority Rosemond James, this new operation will be of economic advantage to all involved. “This will afford better opportunities for economic growth, particularly in Tourism and Trade.”

James emphasised that safety should always be the top priority for airlines, and commended LIAT for subjecting the airline to a safety audit by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

With the new service, travellers now have two options, three days per week to travel to/from Canouan.

Flight 760 departs Grenada on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10:15am, arriving in Canouan at 10:45am. It then leaves Canouan at 11:00am, arriving in Barbados at 11:40am. Flight 787 leaves Barbados at 5:20pm on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, arriving in Canouan at 6:00pm. It leaves Canouan at 6:15pm, arriving in Grenada at 6:45pm.

The new service will also serve as a valuable connection for larger airlines out of Europe and North America.

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