By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 6, 2018 – The strategic planning by the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party Administration of former Prime Minister the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas, was recently highlighted in a video which documented the attraction and continued growth of direct international air service from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport.
The Youtube video carefully pointed out that it did not happen overnight but through very strategic planning by the Labour Party administration.
It reported that in the early 2000’s, it became evident that the St. Kitts sugar industry which was 300 years old and the main driver of the island’s economy, could not withstand the growing competition of the global market place.
Driven by hospitality and tourism, once airlift was identified as an essential area for infrastructural development in order to fuel the tourism growth, St. Kitts Tourism Authority and airline partners, engaged in planning and implementing a systematic build out of air bridges to keep international airport hubs in North America and Europe.
The video highlighted:
November 2002, saw the first non-stop jet service from North America on US Airways from Philadelphia. Prior to that the island’s service from North America, had consisted of twice daily turbo-prop service on American Eagle via San Juan, Puerto Rico.
November 2004, saw the initiation of a non-stop jet service from Miami on American Airlines starting at three times weekly, then growing to five times weekly in 2006.
During that same period, US Airways service was moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.
In 2007, American Airlines launched a twice-weekly Saturday service from JFK in New York and the Miami flight became daily in November 2008.
The introduction of non-stop Saturday service by Delta Airlines began in February 2008 marked the first time this airline would serve St. Kitts.
In December 2009, the service increased to twice weekly. That same year, 2009, British Airways launched its Saturday service from Gatwick, London, via Antigua and a second flight on Tuesdays commenced in March 2010.
In November 2012, began the first of two double daily weekend services on American Airlines from Miami on Fridays and Sundays with two more double daily flights on Thursdays and Saturdays in November 2013.
November 2012, saw Air Canada serving St. Kitts’ Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport, from Toronto, in peak season for the first time.
In December 2015, United Airlines launched its non-stop service from its New York hub at Newark Liberty International Airport with weekly peak season Saturday flights.
In November 2016, the flights were extended to year round.
In January 2014, Seaborne Airlines launched daily service via San Juan coming full circle, replacing the American Eagle Service which ended with the cessation of flights to the Caribbean into 2013 ,
In December 2017, American Airlines added another double daily service on Wednesdays – two flights daily five days a week from Miami and Delta launched a non-stop Saturday flight from JFK and augmented the weekend Atlanta service with a Wednesday flight.
Sen. the Hon. Richard Skerritt as Minister of Tourism, has ensured that St. Kitts has grown from 65,000 in-bound seats in 2003 to over 253,000 in 2018.