St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Nevisians can now travel directly to Antigua without having to journey or even overnight in St. Kitts with the return of a daily LIAT flight to the island of 12,000 people.
LIAT interrupted its three- day -a -week service to Nevis in 2014.
Deputy Premier of Nevis and Foreign Minister Mark Brantley.
“Two years ago LIAT pulled out because of some technical issues, they were of course changing over their fleet and had a shortage of equipment and so they dedicated that equipment to their more lucrative and larger routes. Nevis of course is a small market.
So what really happened is that they were able to form an arrangement with Caribbean Helicopters to fly a smaller piece of equipment into Nevis and that suits us just fine because the truth is we have been struggling to get a bridge between Nevis and Antigua particularly for our people who are travelling intra-regionally, it was very difficult for us. The NTA and the NIA came to an arrangement independent of the deal with Caribbean Helicopters so we now hope is subsumed under this new arrangement and would now move from service just a few days a week to every day. So this is a very welcome development people can feel free to book with LIAT and then get on to Nevis and they go to Antigua and onward from there” Brantley said.
The return of LIAT is seen as an opportunity to boost intra regional travel to Nevis.
“The ease now of our people to travel and to interact with each other I think that for me is very very welcome we have things like St Lucia Jazz coming up, we have Blues in Nevis coming up in April, it means now that people have an easier way on a daily basis and let us hope that the traffic is there, if it picks up we can start doing two maybe three flights a day so it’s really now for people to start use the service. It’s there at the Vance Amory International, my hope is that people use it’ He said.
Heavy government taxes that can in some cases account for 50 percent of the ticket price are blamed for declining intra-regional travel.
Mr. Brantley agrees that it’s time to have a serious conversation on the issue.
“It might be time for us to look at a scenario where perhaps Caribbean governments agree to reduce taxes on intra-regional travel and then perhaps try to make up on that on international travel but certainly we have to come up with creative ways to make it easier for our people to interact with each other. We are one Caribbean and our people must be able to move freely. It seems to me unconscionable that you will pay almost the same price from here to the British Virgin Islands for example or from here to St Maarten as you would pay a cheap ticket to Miami. So I feel there is some room there and fiscal policy has always been to used to influence the economy and influence the society in which we live and viewing the Caribbean as a single society I think it’s time we start to look at taxes and how we can adjust it. Looking at the ordinary ticket people complain it’s expensive but in reality a significant part of those tickets are taxes.
So if some adjustment can be made it might be require a study to see how because once you reduce taxes somewhere you have to see where you can make up for it somewhere else, but I think it’s time to think out of the box and see how we can make intra-regional travel cheaper.”