The VI’s could have had a direct Jet Blue flight from New York … if the Virgin Islands government had agreed to guarantee the company $1.5 million. That proposal was reported by a committee appointed by the Governor working to maintain air service to the Territory in the face of cutbacks. The “offer” was rejected.
Jet Blue was not alone in trying to pry cash from the Territory in exchange for scheduling flights into St. Thomas. Continental Airlines wanted $1 million for a weekly flight from Newark. US Airways ”considered dropping one weekly seasonal Charlotte-St. Croix flight” if it didn’t get $1 million, according to a report published ion the Virgin Islands Daily News.
Now, we know the airlines are in trouble. United is asking as much as $9 for a “fresh” snack. Now we learn the airlines are asking for cash for service. The Tourism Commissioner said there have been no such payments. But the VIs have committed $1.6 million in marketing partnerships with four airlines to promote their flights in Atlanta, Boston, Miami, and Ft. Lauderdale.
This Daily News story (read it here: http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/index.pl/article?id=17627816) just makes the airlines sound thuggish, desperate and heavy-handed. Without air service, the islands’ tourism business goes in the dumper. You could say the airlines have their foot on the throat of the local economy. Is Vladimir Putin running the airlines?