New Canadian law halts Air  Canada’s service to SVG – Beache
(Left) AIR CANADA airplane (Right) Glen Beache ,Chief Executive Officer of the SVGTA
April 14, 2022

New Canadian law halts Air Canada’s service to SVG – Beache

The decision of Air Canada not to return to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) until November is not because of a lack of demand for flights but has more to do with a new Canadian law, the SVG Tourism Authority has explained. 

“Let me make this clear from the start. St Vincent and the Grenadines is not the only country in this position. St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, St Lucia, and Antigua and Barbuda are suffering from the same fate when it comes to Air Canada,” Chief Executive Officer of the SVGTA, Glen Beache said at a press conference on April 6. 

He also said that they are trying to get the airline to begin coming in again by the week before Independence.

“It is not because of demand, it more has to do with certain new laws that the Canadian Government have put in place,” Beache explained. 

He said, “The new law basically stipulates new rules for Canadian owned airlines and their crews” including how long they can fly for each day. 

“Now if you don’t have a daily flight it makes it harder for them to change over crews and therefore we don’t have a daily flight out of Air Canada, nor do any of the other countries I just spoke about. But Barbados does,so it makes it easier for them to change over crews each day,” he continued. 

The CEO said they are “distraught” over it, “…especially with the major announcement… being confirmed by Minister (Carlos) James in terms of Carnival going full blast ahead, that the demand is there for people wanting to come home directly.”

Despite the meetings that the Authority has had with Air Canada, the airlines said they could not change it. 

“We spoke to WestJet, which is another major airline out of Canada. All the airlines, especially within North America are having one major problem since this pandemic. And that’s crew. They can’t find the crew to do a lot of these flights,” Beache revealed. 

He also said that they met with American airline Southwest a few weeks ago and “they made it clear that we were on their radar but they are having a serious problem with crews” and plan to hire 1200 pilots this year of which they have apparently gotten nowhere close. 

“So that is a problem. Air Canada has the same problem, American Airlines. So the number of flights and the planes they have available has become difficult,” the Beache said. 

He disclosed that they are in talks with Caribbean Airlines to see if this carrier can fill this route for the summer and another option is Sunwing, an airline that SVG has chartered out of Canada previously. 

“We’re not sure if that’s gonna be viable. One of the reasons is that WestJet is in the process of purchasing Sunwing so we’re not sure how that’s gonna go.
But also Sunwing’s bookings are quite strong right now. We’re not sure if planes will be available for them to fly in to St Vincent and the Grenadines but it is an option that we are looking at,” Beache continued. 

When asked how certain it is whether the issue with Air Canada will be resolved by November, the CEO responded, “If you go on Expedia Air Canada our flights are already up for the winter season.”

Beache assured that the loads for American Airlines out of Miami twice a week remain good, as well as Virgin Atlantic’s flights from the United Kingdom. 
As it concerns the load for Caribbean Airlines (CAL) flight to New York, he said they are hoping this will get better. 

“I think part of the problem is that people did not realise CAL had started to fly again with this pandemic. I remember Trinidad’s borders were closed for so long and our flights with Caribbean Airlines out of JFK and out of Piarco has to come through Trinidad, so with their borders closed we couldn’t do anything about that but we continue to speak [with]the airlines to see what we can do,” he said. 

He also said they are hoping new airlines will soon announce they will be flying to this destination in which case the airlines would make the announcement and the SVGTA confirm it.