V. C. Bird International records increase in flights

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(Pointe Xpress)

International flights into Antigua and Barbuda’s V.C. Bird International Airport have increased despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Airport Chief Executive Officer Euleta Francis said over the weekend that the airport was a hive of activity with major carriers operating several incoming and outgoing flights.

On Saturday, there were twelve international flights from the major carriers Virgin Atlantic, Delta, United Airlines, British Airways, American, Jetblue.

Carriers, including American Airlines, operated several flights into the country from multiple destinations.

Overall, Francis said a total of 1337 passengers arrived aboard those flights. “ The flights are back! That ’s a good thing, but our numbers are still running less than they did this time last year.

However, over the period October to December we see increases in successive months,” she declared.

The airport CEO is of the view that Antigua and Barbuda is experiencing increased flights for two reasons: the Tourism Authority has launched several marketing campaigns designed to drum up interest in the destination which seem to be bearing fruit and the country has been able to keep its COVID-19 active cases largely within single digits which sends the message that the country is managing the COVID-19 outbreak well.

Activity at the airport was again hectic on Sunday but with less calls than Saturday. All major U.S. carriers, except United, operated flights on Sunday.

Air Canada and Caribbean Airlines also operated flights on Sunday. Francis explained that in October the airline only operated 15 percent of the flights it operated last October.

In November it increased to 25 percent and Francis said she hopes that the number increases to 50 percent in December.

Tourism is Antigua and Barbuda’s main industry representing 70 percent of the country ’s Gross Domestic Product.

The country ’s economy has taken a battering as part of the fallout of the pandemic after borders were closed at the end of March for two months. While Antigua and Barbuda was the first in the region to reopen, visitors have not returned in their usual numbers due to concerns over COVID-19.