Airline reimbursements contribute to Gonzalo’s price tag

Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst.

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Compensation for American Airlines has been listed as one of the factors contributing to the government’s US $40 million request for assistance after Tropical Storm Gonzalo.

The government is seeking aid from friendly governments, like the United States and the People’s Republic of China, for the storm that downed power lines and damaged homes and businesses when it struck last Monday.

Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst said while the figure is partially based on reports from district coordinators who surveyed the damage done after the storm, other costs to the economy in the form of missed flights had to be accounted for as well.

“We’ve entered into a marketing agreement with one or two of the airlines and our responsibility is to make sure their flights leave here with a certain amount of people on board,” Hurst explained.

“We know that in some cases, if we don’t, we have to provide a subsidy of some sort.”

Aside from the US and China, the government will also be soliciting funds from Spain, France, South Korea, Venezuela, Brazil, and other South American territories.

The chief of staff said Japan and Morocco were also approached. He specified that the government was not seeking loans from the international governments, but grants to help restore Antigua & Barbuda to what it was prior to Tropical Storm Gonzalo.

The appeals are being made through Antigua & Barbuda’s overseas embassies, Hurst said, adding that letters from Prime Minister Gaston Browne had already been dispatched.

Hurst said the funds would go towards assisting locals who were severely affected by the storm, but assistance would only go to the “needy, not the greedy.”

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)

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