Flights to the eastern Caribbean nation of Grenada could soon cost less. The country is moving to reduce taxes on airline tickets to help bolster travel and tourism in the region. The move comes after local regional airline LIAT went into liquidation last month.
Commercial flying slow to resume around the Caribbean
Grenada’s Maurice Bishop International Airport is moving to recommence commercial flights in early August. It is now closed to all but repatriation, cargo, and medical flights. LIAT usually operates high-frequency flights around the Caribbean. However, none of LIAT’s ten ATRs are presently flying.
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The Caribbean National Weekly reports that despite many airports around the Caribbean recently re-opening, or about to, commercial flights are scarce. In addition to LIAT, Grenada’s Maurice Bishop Airport usually hosts British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, JetBlue, Air Canada, and Caribbean Airlines flights.
So far, American Airlines has announced plans to resume flying between Miami and Grenada on August 20.
LIAT’s ATRs typically ferry passengers around the region’s island nations. The airline also facilitated handy connections to international flights in Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia, and Trinidad.
Grenada’s PM announces cuts to airline taxes
LIAT’s future is uncertain and its flights are not operating. As a result, Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, is proactively moving to kickstart travel again. He told the Caribbean National Weekly;
“There are a combination of opportunities that will be available to ensure that we have, not just to replace what LIAT was bringing if it has not returned, but to have expanded opportunities.
“We expect with the additional transport to the individual countries in the region and the reduction of taxes in general and airport fees. In general, we will see further development of inter-island travel.
“So far, some countries and we will be following suit have, in fact, taken the initiative to reduce the taxes on airline tickets already. We will be doing so in the not to distance future.”
Local taxes are typically built into the price of the ticket and can be substantial. While there is no departure tax to fly out of Grenada’s primary Maurice Bishop Airport, nearby Carriacou belongs to Grenada. There’s a departure tax of approximately US$22 to fly out of Carriacou’s Lauriston Airport. That tax is built into the ticket price, and that is a cost that might soon disappear.
Several local airlines ready to step into the LIAT vacuum
Several local airlines could fill the LIAT vacuum. They include SVG and OneCaribbean from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean Airlines, InterCaribbean, Air Antilles, and Silver Airways. All have reportedly expressed interest.
The forum representing Caribbean nations, CARICOM, has called a relaxation of licensing or AOC certification rules to facilitate new services.
According to Prime Minister Mitchell, One Caribbean, SVG Airways, and InterCaribbean are all looking to start flying to Grenada and other east Caribbean nations shortly. He notes the Turks and Caicos Islands based InterCaribbean has already signed an agreement with the Grenadian Government to begin flights into Maurice Bishop Airport.
“With the possible demise of LIAT, there are significant moves by our civil aviation and tourism sectors to ensure we have alternative transport in the case the demise of LIAT becomes a reality,” said Prime Minister Mitchell.
The Prime Minister did not put a timeline on when airline taxes would be reduced.