Airlines ‘might demand comeback cash’

Caribbean governments should not be surprised if international airlines want to be paid to resume flights following the COVID-19 shutdowns, Hugh Riley, retired secretary-general of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) has said.

Riley said payment for airlift was a likely consequence given the heavy losses airlines have endured as a result of the global pandemic.

Addressing a webinar hosted by the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business on the economy, Riley told participants: “Airlines are talking about fee waivers and there is going to be a lot of demand for financial support for the aviation industry. Governments are starting to see that already.

“There is going to be a shift in the balance between airline seating destinations to fly to and destinations paying airlines to come.

“That is how the balance will be shifted. It is a tough pill to swallow but that is the reality.”

The tourism consultant, principal with the PM Group, explained that airlines have also urged regional governments to harmonise their post-COVID-19 protocols to make flying to the region less cumbersome when the destinations reopen.