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Airline negotiations still ongoing – SVGTA

Airline negotiations still ongoing – SVGTA

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Glen Beache, chief executive officer (CEO) of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA), says negotiations are still ongoing with airlines considering doing business at the international airport at Argyle.{{more}}

“We are behind time a bit – I would have liked the Prime Minister and Minister to have something to announce by July …” Beache said at a press briefing last Tuesday.

He, however, now says that he hopes that by August or September, contracts will be ready for signing.

He, however, said that the SVGTA is on track to have airlines operate at the international airport.

Beache had announced during a press conference in October last year that an announcement would have been made by the middle of this year to indicate which airlines will be flying into the international airport.

According to the Tourism Authority’s CEO, at that time, they had a good idea of which airlines would be coming in, but preferred not to say.

He said last Tuesday that representatives from Air France were here a few weeks ago and indicated that they were impressed with the facilities at Argyle.

They are, however, waiting for the SVGTA to get back to them with some information.

Beache explained that France is a market that is currently untapped, but that the SVGTA was looking to change this and open up the market.

Based on research, the French are looking for places in the Caribbean outside of Martinique and Guadeloupe and it was known that the French and Italians take their vacation during the off-season, which is another reason why this country is keen on opening up to these markets, Beache explained.

British Airways has sent two teams over the past three years and, according to Beache, they have been a part of the process since the inception of the construction at the site.

The SVGTA CEO continued, saying that it is expected that the president of a major airline is expected here next month and officials of other airlines are waiting to hear from local authorities about what can be offered to them for flying here, Beache said.

Issues such as the waiving of apron taxes; the provisioning of fuel; crew members being allowed to overnight, with the local authorities paying the bill; all of these were decisions that the SVGTA would have to make, he explained.

It is known that some support would have to be given to the airlines, Beache said, but singled out some of the conditions that they are not willing to agree to in their discussions.

One such was revenue sharing or guaranteeing seats, which is a situation where, if the airlines fly into the country and there are empty seats, the government is then required to take up the slack for these empty seats, Beache explained.

“We are not in favour of it, because we know a lot of our neighbouring countries do it. We think it defeats the purpose, because then the airline does not have to work to fill their planes,” he said. (DD)

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