Antigua: Tourism Minister Concerned Over Airline Caribbean Flight Cancellations

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CMC- Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Minister Charles “Max” Fernandez says the local tourism industry has been dealt yet another blow following news that US-based carrier, JetBlue, will be canceling flights to Antigua and Barbuda. This comes after Air Canada’s cancellation of flights to the region.

The airline indicated it is mostly cutting routes it had added during the pandemic in the hopes of luring more passengers even as the number of flights had dropped. Between January 6 2020, and January 4 2021, it said, there was a 43.5 per cent decrease in scheduled flights worldwide.

About 65 per cent of the slashed routes are to Latin American and Caribbean destinations.

In a recent statement, the Tourism Minister said the move by the airline affects a number of destinations and was not a direct indictment against Antigua and Barbuda.

“But it is not good news for air arrivals…I think it is all a result of what is happening with the Omicron virus. It is very contagious and there is a tremendous amount of absenteeism and I believe they are cutting back because they have no staff,” he said.

JetBlue’s announcement comes just over a week after Air Canada announced its cancellation of flights to Antigua and Barbuda and other sun destinations.

He however said that on the brighter side, Canada-based airline, Sunwing, is returning to the destination as of Saturday, and will be operating weekly flights to the island.

“One hundred and forty passengers will be on the flight,” Fernandez said.

“This is good news to put alongside what is happening. Within another month or so, it is believed that the fourth wave [of Covid] would have started to decline and we are anticipating that this would allow for those who postpone their holidays [to] reschedule,” he added.

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