Dispute brews over landing rights

St. Lucia Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet.

An aviation dispute is looming between St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines over threats by St. Lucia to debar two Vincentian carriers from landing on the island if authorities in Kingstown continue to deny St. Lucia registered CARICOM Airways permission to fly to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

St. Lucia Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet has issued an ultimatum to Vincentian authorities to resolve the impasse within a week or expect that both St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Air and Mustique Airways will no longer be granted rights to fly to St. Lucia.

He said it has taken nine weeks for Vincentian authorities to approve the application from the St. Lucia registered carrier to fly there when it is the country’s tourism industry that stands to benefit.

St. Lucia has been seeking to develop a mini-hub out of its Hewanorra International Airport in the south to provide connections to the Windward Islands and Martinique.

Chastanet said that while the carrier has received permission to fly to Grenada and Dominica and talks are being finalized with Martinique, in the case of St. Vincent an application has been pending for some months.

The minister said that the strategy of CARICOM Airlines is to provide affordable prices to the people of Grenada, St .Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica whom he feels have been severely penalized during the era of Liat.

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