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Posted: Tuesday 13 October, 2020 at 6:18 PM

Limited number of flights expected at opening of border

By: Staff Reporter,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – THE RLB International Airport is scheduled to reopen at the end of October to commercial travellers, but a limited number of flights are expected during the initial period due to the continued spread of the Coronavirus in the Federation’s tourism source markets.


    In Europe, the United Kingdom specifically, there has been a reimposition of stricter measures due to an uptick in the number of confirmed cases; while in France there were reports of 16,972 daily confirmed cases and Spain’s numbers were reaching over 10, 000.


    Just recently, Prime Minister Boris Johnson implemented a new tier system that will better manage the way lockdown-type measures and curfews will be imposed - restricting the gatherings in all parts of the country.


    In the United States, there are growing concerns about the rising numbers and the way the Government is Basseterre will treat that source market. 


    Tourism Minister Lindsay Grant addressed the arrangements for the reopening of the borders, where he confirmed that there would be limited flights allowed into the Federation, at least in the short term.


    He explained to SKNVibes News that under the initial programme there would be targeted flights from the United States, Canada and Europe. 


    “We would expect that the initial programme would have American Airlines possibly three days per week. We would have United one day per week and we will have Air Canada one day per week, and hopefully British Airways one day per week. If you did recognise with those numbers, the second flight from Canada we would probably pull that back.”


    Also being considered is the withdrawal of the second British Airways flight from the United Kingdom, the Minister revealed. 


    “We were also having a second flight out of the UK and we would probably have to have a relook at that,” the minister added.


    Though tourism officials are welcoming the move to reopen the borders, there is the expectation of not having a huge influx of tourists to the island, according to Grant.


    As a result, the Government will be forced to reach into its pockets to pay out the minimum revenue guarantee to those flights. 


    “We expect a gradual delivery of persons into St. Kitts - residents, citizens and tourists alike,” the Minister said. “For the first thing, we are not going to have the kind of airlift that we are accustomed to, so you know that you will not have the supply. And I think the travel industry has to adjust to the new environment and people at times are not really adjustable.”


    St. Kitts and Nevis is among a handful of territories in the region that will reopen their borders at the end of the month or early in November.


    No commercial tourists had arrived in the Federation since March, but students of Ross University along with nationals and residents were allowed into the Federation. 


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