Winair to Pull Out From St. Kitts

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WINAIR TO PULL OUT FROM ST. KITTS By Lesroy W. Williams Observer Reporter
(Basseterre, St. Kitts)–Windward Islands Airways International (Winair), the St. Maarten-based airline, announced that it will be stopping flights to St. Kitts near the end of March this year after 30 years of service. “Subsequent discussions with the airline officials have revealed that WINAIR continues to feel the impact of increased competition, fluctuating fuel prices, and the increase in other operational costs,” said St Kitts’ Minister of State for Information, Senator Nigel Carty. “WINAIR alluded to a decreasing trend in passenger volume from St. Kitts, and has deemed the recent losses unsustainable, and has made a decision to discontinue its services to and from St Kitts by March 29, 2009.”With WINAIR pulling out, LIAT, the Caribbean Airline, will be the only carrier to fill the void between the Dutch/French Caribbean from the Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw Airport. WINAIR’s fate comes a few months after announcing at a press conference at Port-de-Plaisance Resort and Casino, Cole Bay, St. Maarten, on Nov.20, that they were in the process of acquiring another Twin Otter aircraft by December of last year, bringing its fleet to seven, in a move that was designed to meet peak demands and increased routes in the Caribbean, despite the challenges and difficulties that were currently facing the airline. Managing Director of Winair, Mr. Edwin Hodge, told reporters the airline was in it for the long haul and debunked allegations that the airline will be forced to close due to high fuel and operational costs. “The airline is also exploring a number of plans as we seek to improve our service to the public and while I must admit that I will not disclose any detailed plans regarding the new aircraft I can tell you that our passengers are expected to be more pleased with some of the plans that we will be introducing in 2009,”Mr. Hodge said at the November press conference. “We anticipate being more efficient with transporting our passengers with the additional aircraft taking into consideration that a number of persons travel during the winter season,”he said. Mr. Hodge, at a press conference in St. Kitts on Sept. 22, said that maintenance of the St. Maarten to St. Kitts/Nevis route will be highly dependent on subsidies from the respective governments in light of rising fuel and operational costs. However, Minister Carty said that the government had pursued the possibility with WINAIR of keeping the St. Kitts route open and had requested a full analysis from WINAIR of the situation. “There was no scenario presented by WINAIR that made an economically-acceptable case for the government to pursue,” Mr. Carty said. He also said that the government had asked LIAT to fill the void left by WINAIR. WINAIR will also stop services to Dominica and Tortola and reduce its service to Antigua.

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