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#958797 by FLYERZ
09 Jan 2021, 19:55
They stopped in Spring of last year - was supposed to be June but with Covid knocking of demand the actual last flight was earlier. The reason wasn't overly clear but the below suggested something to do with the agreement with the airport/St. Lucia government in terms of subsidies. My understanding is that a lot of the caribbean islands have some similar kind sof agreement in place, but after not reaching an agreement VS pulled the route. I wouuld have said VS would likely routine as soon as the cost:benefit says so e.g. an agreement on the subsidy can be made, but following this TUI has picked up the same route (ignoring Covid preventing these flights to operate yet). This makes it unlikely IMHO to return on VS - perhaps confirmed by VS announcing a new route to St. Vincent also in the Caribbean.


https://www.headforpoints.com/2019/07/2 ... ng-havana/
#958798 by DIAZLUXO
09 Jan 2021, 20:30
FLYERZ wrote:They stopped in Spring of last year - was supposed to be June but with Covid knocking of demand the actual last flight was earlier. The reason wasn't overly clear but the below suggested something to do with the agreement with the airport/St. Lucia government in terms of subsidies. My understanding is that a lot of the caribbean islands have some similar kind sof agreement in place, but after not reaching an agreement VS pulled the route. I wouuld have said VS would likely routine as soon as the cost:benefit says so e.g. an agreement on the subsidy can be made, but following this TUI has picked up the same route (ignoring Covid preventing these flights to operate yet). This makes it unlikely IMHO to return on VS - perhaps confirmed by VS announcing a new route to St. Vincent also in the Caribbean.


https://www.headforpoints.com/2019/07/2 ... ng-havana/

I think it’s really stupid for them to pull out because places like St lucia gather many tourists and virgin will feel the fallout i reckon. Thanks for your detailed response! :D
#958800 by Moley
09 Jan 2021, 21:07
For years, the government marketing body, St Lucia Tourism had subsidised Virgin Atlantic's operations to the turn of $2m USD p.a. to ensure that the flight route was profitable. It return Virgin heavily marketed the route and its holidays.

Bookings to St Lucia had however been falling. This is believed, in part, to be due to the poor state of St Lucia and the failure of the Government to actually improve the areas and amenities promised. Look at the Rodney Bay area, a complete downgrade since I stayed there 15 years ago. In part, its also considered that cruise tourism is affecting St Lucia's flight market.

Because of this Virgin wanted an increase in the support provided by the St Lucian government. Sources quote as high as $7.5m USD p.a. St Lucia said no, Virgin said bye-bye.

I believe that pre Covid, Tui was now the biggest UK operator to the Island (including a fortnightly cruise charter for P&O). St Lucia Tourism were also said to be talking to BA about offering subsidiaries but not sure if that ever happened.
#958803 by DIAZLUXO
10 Jan 2021, 14:25
Oh i see know. Virgin got greedy and wanted more money to bring tourists but the Government said no and that was the right thing to do. Virgin need to be strategic if they want to become a bigger airline.
#958813 by FLYERZ
10 Jan 2021, 19:54
/[/quote]
I think it’s really stupid for them to pull out because places like St lucia gather many tourists and virgin will feel the fallout i reckon. Thanks for your detailed response! :D[/quote]

At the end of the day VS is a business so I understand that sometimes it purely comes down to profits as in this case. I do agree though from a purely route or passenger perspective its far more attractive to be able to say you serve the major Caribbean islands e.g. Jamaica, Antigua, St Lucia, Barbados than say replace St Lucia for St Vincent
#958827 by VS075
11 Jan 2021, 10:41
DIAZLUXO wrote:Oh i see know. Virgin got greedy and wanted more money to bring tourists but the Government said no and that was the right thing to do. Virgin need to be strategic if they want to become a bigger airline.


To be fair, if the subsidies were the difference between the route being profitable or not, then VS would have no doubt run the numbers to determine if the route could be profitable without the subsidies or if it was more profitable to redeploy the aircraft elsewhere at the expense of serving St Lucia. For right or for wrong, VS probably concluded the latter option was the most sensible course of action.

In terms of becoming a bigger airline, I can think of more routes I would rather see VS serve first (and indeed return to) before returning to St Lucia. I felt the recent commencement of services to Pakistan was a smart move given PK's issues and Tel Aviv seemed to be doing well before COVID struck. Hopefully the MAN-India routes will start soon once conditions become more favourable. VS will prosper if it serves more routes where there's money to be made and less on the basis of box ticking or vanity. They have made strides in recent years to cut underperforming routes.

FLYERZ wrote:At the end of the day VS is a business so I understand that sometimes it purely comes down to profits as in this case. I do agree though from a purely route or passenger perspective its far more attractive to be able to say you serve the major Caribbean islands e.g. Jamaica, Antigua, St Lucia, Barbados than say replace St Lucia for St Vincent


I'm genuinely curious to see how St Vincent performs. It's only really been possible to serve the island with a long-haul aircraft in recent years when they built the new airport with a decent sized runway.
#958836 by FLYERZ
11 Jan 2021, 20:30
Interesting for sure! I equate it to when BA started flying to St Kitts which has now been around for a while (excl. Covid). Assuming the hotels/resorts are there on that basis it very well could be a nice niche. Plus being served as a tag on to one of the larger islands (via Barbados/Antigua) it will be relatively low risk I imagine.
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