The Government recovered less than half the money it spent on charter flights to Argyle International Airport on Caribbean Airlines and Sunwing.
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, Thursday June 15, 2017 – Four months after the historic opening of the Argyle International Airport, the Vincentian Government is reporting substantial losses after it chartered airlines for the official opening.
The Government had chartered Trinidad and Tobago’s national flag carrier Caribbean Airlines that provided a service from New York; and Sunwing, which provided a flight from Toronto.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves told Parliament that Government spent close to EC$1 million (US$370,341) on chartering the aircraft, but it recovered less than half the amount – EC$293,803 (US$108,807) – in ticket sales.
However, Gonsalves said the funds came from the budget of the Tourism Authority and Government was not expecting to recover the funds.
“It was not intended…that there would be any break-even here,” the Prime Minister said as he was pressed by Opposition Leader Dr Godwin Friday to bring the country up to date on the matter.
The Prime Minister said it was policy decision intended to attract more business to the multi-million-dollar airport, which opened six years behind schedule.
But his comments were in stark contrast to earlier statements made by head of the Tourism Authority Glen Beache who had predicted that tickets would have sold out within one hour of going on sale.
He was, however, forced to change his tune.
Beache told nationals in Canada that the flights operated at a loss since none of the aircraft were at full capacity.
Gonsalves has maintained that the move was in the country’s best interest, prompting Friday to query whether the Government would continue to charter planes.
Prime Minister Gonsalves did not rule out the idea but he made it clear that his administration would “make a determination as to when and how it is appropriate to use flights to do promotions or to use flights to make a return”.
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