Antigua bracing for cut in AA airlift

ST. JOHN’S — One-third of airlift to a main regional hub from Antigua will be cut this spring as American Airlines ends its daily flights to San Juan, Puerto Rico, amidst continued financial difficulties.

With implications for the thousands of Antiguans who travel to Puerto Rico, many to shop, and leaving LIAT with a monopoly on the route, AA’s Executive Airlines flight will be discontinued on April 1.

All Executive Airlines/American Eagle flights operating out of San Juan’s Luis Munoz Marin International Airport will be discontinued after the April cut-off date. Flights to Dominica, Guadeloupe, St Kitts, St Croix, St Thomas and Tortola, among others, will also be affected.

However, CEO of the Tourism Authority Colin James said Antigua will not be as greatly impacted as neighbouring nations.

“It’s less of an impact for us because we now have direct service out of JFK four times a week and still have our daily service out of Miami,” he said.

“It will be more of an inconvenience in the fact that daily flight through San Juan came through in the night. So if you missed your early morning connection out of Miami or JFK, you had the opportunity to connect through Puerto Rico.”

The Tourism Authority chief said the move may actually provide an opportunity for regional carrier LIAT to pick up an additional flight.

Last December, LIAT CEO Ian Brunton hinted that such a flight to San Juan may be on the horizon, as the company has seen a gradual reduction in competition in most of its markets.

“By March of 2013, a significant LIAT competitor in this region, American Eagle, will finally pull out,” he said. (Antigua Observer)

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