Travel between the Virgin Islands and St. Maarten is expected to get cheaper after St. Maarten reduces the in-transit fee for passengers flying here from its Princess Juliana International Airport, according to government.
The plan to reduce the fee from $55 to $30 follows a recent meeting held to establish a partnership between the boards of the BVI Airports Authority and the PJIA, government stated.
St. Maarten’s national carrier, Winair, currently operates a 19-seat Twin Otter aircraft in the VI, and it plans to expand its service to the VI with the introduction of two 48-seat ATR 42 aircraft, according to government.
“I cannot underscore enough how important such partnerships are, as St. Maarten is one of the major hubs that connects the Caribbean region to Europe, and the BVI is perfectly positioned to tap into the European market with this partnership,” said Deputy Premier Kye Rymer, the minister of communications and works.
BVIAA Chairman Theodore Burke said the board is committed to further increasing air access to the VI.
“In this regard, we will continue to forge the necessary partnerships to ensure the realisation of this objective,” he said.
Mr. Burke added that the St. Maarten partnership was conceived at the Routes World 2022 Conference last October in Las Vegas.
“Our conversations with the St. Maarten delegation began at the Routes World event, where the idea [was discussed] of Princess Juliana International Airport serving as a strategic hub to launch feeder flights to partner airports in the Caribbean where passengers travelling to any one of the group of islands will receive travel benefits once travelling through St. Maarten,” he said.
BVIAA Managing Director Kurt Menal said the authority will continue conversations with St. Maarten and expects to soon announce the enactment of the reduction in in-transit fees for passengers travelling to the VI via St. Maarten.
“The necessary framework to bring this project to fruition is being fine-tuned, and the team in St. Maarten is currently putting the final touches together to allow passengers to enjoy the benefits of the partnership,” he said.
The meeting between the boards was held on March 9. The St. Maarten team included PJIA Consultant Gavin Eccles and Managing Director Brina Mingo, as well as Winair Commercial Director Suzy Kartokromo.
The VI delegation included Messers. Rymer, Burke and Menal, as well as Tourism Director Clive McCoy and Airlift Committee Chairman Allan Parker.