December 14, 2012
LIAT welcomes Harlequin Air

Regional airline LIAT would welcome Harlequin Air, a carrier proposed by the owners of Buccament Bay Resorts to fly their guests to their resorts across the region.{{more}}

“We talk about being a monopoly. That has its drawbacks …” Ian Brunton, LIAT’s chief executive officer, told Caribbean journalists in Antigua and Barbuda on Friday.

“When you are a singular operator enjoying any kind of monopoly, it is quite a responsibility on you. So, we welcome carriers into the market, because, when we can’t service the market, somebody else can help,” he said in response to a question about Harlequin Air.

“And particularly a small carrier like that, that is no challenge to us. We welcome it because we need to get involved with small carriers to be able to fly into those resort areas and so on, which mainly take a smaller type airplane — 19-seaters and below. So, we welcome that. We welcome competition,” he further stated.

Harlequin has invested the requisite US$2 million and was spending US$50,000 a month for pilots and hangar space in Antigua, while they awaited the processing of a regional air operation certificate from the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA), a company spokesperson said in September.

Garrett Ronan, Harlequin vice-president of Hotel and Resort Development, told media workers that his company was hoping that the airline would be operational by October.

But he told SEARCHLIGHT by email Tuesday that negotiations were incomplete.

“As you know, the process is a complex and serious one that has several facets. Negotiations are progressing well,” Ronan said.

Ronan had said in September that while St Vincent has been “one of the best kept secrets in terms of the natural beauty, … it’s been difficult to get to”.

He said Buccament Bay Resort “is doing very well and feedback across market is fantastic.

“… the project’s growth going forward would now be dictated by ensuring that we can get the airlift,” he, however, added.

He said Harlequin Air had hoped to get the requisite permits and begin flying guests by October.

The airline, he added, is “a key element to what we do going forward, particularly for St Vincent”, he further said, as he explained some of the challenges of getting guests to the resort on time and the impact of delayed flights on their overall experience. ([email protected])