The government of Antigua and Barbuda has downplayed reports of UK-based Virgin Atlantic Airline pulling out some its flights from the country.
On Wednesday, it was reported that Virgin Atlantic was threatening to pull out of the twin island unless an increase in subsidy was made to the company in order to continue operations.
Speaking at the post-Cabinet press briefing yesterday, Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel “Max” Hurst denied the reports, saying that it was a normal occurrence that Virgin Atlantic would reduce its flights during the summer months.
“Virgin is not planning to pull any flights. What happens during the summer months is that there are fewer passengers coming to the Caribbean—not just Antigua and Barbuda. This is a time when persons go to Europe so the traffic, both vessels and the aircraft gets diverted to Europe, Alaska during this time of the year,” he said, adding that Virgin Atlantic was looking for more money.
On Wednesday, Tourism Minister Charles “Max” Fernandez confirmed that the airline was asking for a subsidy increase.
He said that a subsidy payment was made in the past, prior to his tenure, but added that while he did not know the details or the value of the earlier subsidy, negotiations with the airline were ongoing.