Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 14, 2018 (SKNIS): Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Lindsay Grant, has dispelled rumours that the Government of National Unity is paying subsidies to airlines. According to Minister Grant, “the government does not now or has ever paid any subsidies to carriers in the Federation.”

The minister explained, during a sitting of Parliament on December 14, that what the government enters into is risk sharing agreements by which it shares the risks with the airlines for the cost of operating the plane that flies into St. Kitts. These costs are carried by the St. Kitts Tourism Authority under a Minimum Revenue Guarantee (MRG). This practice was started by the previous administration. Minister Grant said that before 2015 millions were paid out to American Airlines.

“I am proud today to say that this government has never paid anything to American Airlines,” he said. “In fact, our growth has been so notable that we have even been able to negotiate a total release of our Delta MRG with only a small MRG remaining with United Airlines to secure the midweek flight out of Newark New Jersey.”

Speaking to the growth of airlift, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris said during his 2019 Budget Address on December 12 it has increased significantly because of not only the government’s marketing strategies, but with the strong business relationships that have been built with several airlines.

In fact, an increase of stayover visitors can be attributed to the expanded airlift capacity provided by Delta Airlines during the 2017/2018 peak season with the addition of non-stop service to St. Kitts from John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport on Saturdays and a second weekly non-stop flight from its Atlanta hub.

The prime minister stated that for the first time in the Federation’s history, Air Canada will serve St. Kitts for a full six months for the upcoming peak season accommodating an additional six weeks of service compared to the pervious arrangement.

United Airlines will also increase its flight offerings with a second weekly non-stop flight from its New York hub to St. Kitts on Wednesdays during the period January 09 to May 06, 2019.

In addition, Sun Country Airlines, which is based in Minneapolis, will commence operation of a non-stop service from the Upper Midwestern region of the United States to St. Kitts. This service will operate once per week on Saturdays commencing on December 22, 2018, and concluding on April 20, 2019.