Opposition wants explanation on AA flip-flop
St Lucia Opposition Leader Stephenson King has asked the government to explain the decision by American Airlines to reinstate a daily service on its Miami-St. Lucia route, only days after stating that the flights were to be scaled back to four times a week.
Its nothing short of amazing that only a week after confirming that AA will be reducing its daily flights out of Miami, the government would later announce that the flights were reinstated, King said.
He said that he is aware that the reinstatement followed a private meeting with an American Airlines executive and Prime Minister Anthony at the prime ministers behest.
King queried whether the government agreed to pay the seat subsidy to the airline that it criticized and if so, the source of those funds.
The former prime minister said he had reason to believe that the funds are being extracted from the Airport Development Tax which was introduced during last year by his United Workers Party administration, which had accumulated close to US$10 million.
The prime minister must come clean and tell the nation exactly where the funds are coming from to pay American Airlines to reinstate the flights, said King, adding that it would be interesting to learn how much was being paid to carrier at this time.
When we got wind of the fact that AA decided to cut back its daily service to St. Lucia to four times weekly, we thought that it would be a disservice to the tourism industry and the economy in general, hence the reason why we articulated our position in the manner that we did.
We believed that the government obviously felt embarrassed by the whole situation, to lose flights by the withdrawal of American Eagle, then a 50 per cent cut back in the seats out of Miami, in addition to a further cut by reducing the size of the aircraft coming into St Lucia, would be a telling blow for the islands tourism sector, King said.
Hoteliers had described the planned withdrawal by American as a disaster for the summer and had warned that the move would drastically reduce occupancy and result in hotel worker layoffs.