Tuesday, 21 Mar 2023

US Virgin Islands Air Arrivals Up Despite Challenges

Flight cuts part of a global trend, says commissioner

US Virgin Islands Air Arrivals Up Despite Challenges

Recent airline service cuts are part of a "continued global challenge" impacting leisure travel, manifest in "pilot and staff shortages, fuel surges and aircraft supply," said Joseph Boschulte, the territory's tourism commissioner

The combined challenges recently led American Airlines to reduce flight schedules to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Boschulte said at the Routes World Conference in Las Vegas earlier this month. American's move comes as airlines serving the U.S. Virgin Islands are "taking a closer look at routes and restructur[ing] globally," said Boschulte.

American Airlines' route cuts are not exclusive to the U.S. Virgin Islands and "are minimal in comparison" to the carrier's "overall restructuring and repositioning of assets," said Boschulte.

There are currently 21 nonstop flights from the U.S. to St. Croix and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The current schedule represents a 21 percent increase in airlift to the U.S. Virgin Islands compared with the same period in 2019.

With 10 airlines flying to the territory, the territory hosted 14 percent more passengers in February 2022 compared with February 2019, said Department of Tourism officials. Additionally, departure seats increased by 35.8 percent between 2019 and 2022. Finally, as of July 2022 the territory received 98% more travelers compared with the same period in 2021, officials said.

The territory will welcome the reopening of two anchor properties in 2023, as the Westin Beach Resort & Spa and adjacent Seaborn resorts will reopen. The combined properties will offer 384 rooms, three oceanfront pools and 72,000 square feet of event space. The Loyango Resort and Beach Club will open on a private island near St. John on December 20.

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