A delegation from the British Virgin Islands (BVI) had “substantial discussions” with North American airlines at Routes World 2022 in Las Vegas last week, establishing “valuable leads” for securing new airline routes, according to the territory’s vice premier.
Kye Rymer, who is also BVI’s minister for communications and works, delivered an Oct. 27 speech to the territory’s House of Assembly detailing the progress a delegation made last week in Las Vegas. Rymer led the group, which included Kurt Menal, the managing director of the BVI’s Lettsome International Airport (EIS), which has no connections beyond the Caribbean.
“Madam Speaker, our team had three core goals in going to Routes,” Rymer told BVI’s legislature. “Firstly, and obviously, we want to get direct flights to the US mainland. Our second aim is to increase connectivity and the overall volume of flights and passengers coming through our airports. And our third aim was to promote VMI as a top-quality and high-value tourist destination and attract more visitors.”
Rymer said the delegation met with eight airlines at Routes World: American Airlines, Air Canada, Breeze Airways, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Sun Country Airlines and United Airlines.
“We found that a few did not know as much as we would have liked about BVI as a potential destination for their services,” he added. “But, Madam Speaker, after speaking with our delegation and viewing our presentation, they got a fresh perspective, and this led to some very productive and optimistic conversations. [EIS] is now on the radar of those airlines.”
Rymer said the meetings with the eight airlines “were very fruitful and provided us with many opportunities for route development [to BVI]. We were able to establish a number of valuable leads [and] can now have follow-up discussions with the [airlines] we spoke with to increase airlift and tourist arrival.”
He added the delegation “received multiple requests to supply further technical information” on EIS, “and requests for follow-up conversations.” One “popular airline” is considering “a codeshare with a ferry service to BVI from St Thomas (STT),” he noted.
Rymer conceded the runway length (4,642 ft) at EIS was cited as a “prohibitive factor” by some airlines with which the delegation met.
He added: “However, they emphasized their strong interest in BVI and that they would be [eager] to come to BVI as soon as we extend our runway. They told us they are seeing that a significant number of their passengers to connecting airports have BVI as their final destination. So, they know our potential once it becomes possible for them to land and take off. They have no doubt about the viability of our destination.”