ST VINCENT-Government awaits final word on suspended Air Canada flights.

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KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority should know by Friday whether Air Canada will reverse its decision to suspend flights to Argyle International Airport.

CEO Glen Beache said government officials had met with representatives of Air Canada last Thursday following the airline’s decision to suspend summer flights to St. Vincent and three other destinations because of changes in the law in Canada.

He stressed that the development was “not any fault of Air Canada…or any fault of St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.

Late last year, the Canadian government changed laws and rules regarding flight time for crew members, which Beach said has resulted in Toronto-Antigua and Barbuda being the furthest route in the Caribbean that Air Canada crew can fly without having to overnight.

“So, Antigua has kept their flights. But places like St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, who’ve had two flights weekly, it has been tough,” Beache said, adding that Air Canada, like many other airlines, is affected by “a shortage of pilots internationally.”

He said Air Canada is suspending flights to any country that cannot sustain more than two flights weekly because doing otherwise would mean that crew would have to be in that destination “doing nothing for those few days.”

“The problem we have in St. Vincent the Grenadines is that at two flights per week, the pilots and the crew would have to stay here for at least three days until the next flight gets in for them to fly back. And it’s unreasonable for them to do this,” he explained.

“In our conversation with Air Canada, we put a solution to them for that problem. I’m not going to go into the solution here because Air Canada promised to get back to us by Friday of this week regarding the answer,” Beach disclosed.

“Out of the four countries, we’re the only ones that came with a solution to the issue, and they were pleased about that. They understand our concerns and especially at a time when Canada is our fastest-growing source market.”

He said SVG had seen an uptick in Canadians traveling with their family, especially during the summer.

“So, kind of us not getting those flights out of Toronto, at least twice weekly, for the summer hit us hard. And they apologized for it because their communications manager knew the same day that we did that their network agents department had taken it off,” the tourism authority CEO said.

He said that if Air Canada decided to reinstate the flight on Friday, the Tourism Authority would “appreciate them putting out something explaining that.”

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