Local pilots still grounded after two years

Sean Springette 
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By Monique Washington

With the Federation returning to a state of normalcy since the onset of the  pandemic, locals pilots on Nevis have still not been given the green light by the COVID-19 Task Force to resume flights.

Local commercial ‘Air Sunshine’ pilot Sean Springette told The Observer that it has been almost two years since he last flown. He noted that through many attempts in trying to have manageable restrictions set for local pilots, all attempts have failed.

“We wrote to them for the first time in May of 2020. The last time we did was at the end of November last year. We are not getting any response,” he said.

Springette said that all of the pilots of the airline have been fully vaccinated since last year, so the question of vaccination was never an issue. He added that the National Task Force asked them to get tested every time they returned home, but they said no.

“They moved from quarantine to testing. If we leave the country and come back in we must test after every flight coming back in at our expense. We told them that that is ridiculous; it’s not feasible it is not practical. We are transporting people that were okayed by the Task Force to come in, but we are a threat to the Nevisian society? Where is the science in that?” he asked.

The Observer questioned Springette as to what he thought the issue was, to which he replied, “I have no idea”

“I spoke to the Honourable Mr. Mark Brantley. We have been writing to the Nevis Task Force, St. Kitts Task Force, correspondences to the Premier and the CMO. We have been talking to everybody. At this point it doesn’t make any sense what is happening,” he said, adding that “Nevis is the only place in the region that has these regulations against pilots and crew”.

Springette said that this issue has not just affected him, but about 10 other pilots attached to the airlines along with the crew.

“Two years without work. There are about 10 pilots affected, and along with the three persons each plus baggage handlers, agents not just pilots alone,” he said.

He said it is not just the crew that is suffering, but the Vance Amory International Airport as well.

“Nevis is losing out on parking fees, passenger facility fees, fuel and other taxes. The airline may eventually pull out. But who will lose?

The Observer contacted Premier Brantley who noted that, “I would be pleased to meet with them to determine what remaining issues there may be. As I understood it, the major issue was the quarantine requirements, but those have now been removed, so I am unsure what remaining issues there might be”.

The Observer also contacted the Chairman of the National COVID-19 Task Force, Abdias Samuel, who noted that they have asked for the pilots to submit a proposal and “conversations with bosses of some of the airlines that fly into Nevis”.


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