With the Keith Mitchell-led government committing the island to a massive controversial loan of EC$185 million from Mainland China for the upgrade of the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA), two airlines have signalled their intention not to return to the island in the foreseeable future.
Authoritative sources told THE NEW TODAY that Delta Airlines and the German carrier, Condor will no longer be having scheduled flights into the airport located at Point Salines in the south of the island.
Grenada is trying to kick-start its tourism industry with the re-opening of MBIA a few weeks ago following its closure in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A well-placed source challenged information given in recent weeks by Tourism & Civil Aviation Minister, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen that all the major airlines are coming back to service MBIA.
He said that Condor has suspended its operations into the Caribbean region including Grenada not for one month but for one year.
According to the source, he feared that the German airline might not be returning to the Caribbean for a very long time.
“The load is just not there. Once you do that you (stop operations) are actually packing up for good and you have no reason to come back at all,” he said.
The source pointed out that the exit of Condor will be significant financially for Grenada as the airline normally brings 100 German visitors to the island on a weekly basis.
He said the spending power of the Germans is almost as twice as that of visitors from the United States – the biggest tourism source market for the island.
“The average Germans are long stay people and their buying power is a lot more. The average German spends between 14-21 days on the island and they spend, spend and spend – they just don’t sit on a resort like at Sandals in one place,” he added.
The source indicated that Germans tend to venture out on their visits and will go to all different local eating places and get involved in all sorts of local recreational activities and as such “spreads out” the money in their pockets.
He estimated that the average German visitor spends about 1500 to 2000 Euros on a visit to Grenada with a lot of the money going to purchase duty-free items like perfumes at MBIA to take back home.
The shops at the airport will lose out a lot due to the absence of the German visitors, he said, adding that “they will be surely missed.”
In the case of Delta Airlines, the source said that the U.S airline has just shipped out a large container of its equipment from MBIA back to the United States.
He said the airline which used to make seasonal trips from Atlanta into MBIA has virtually packed up “lock, stock and barrel” and has no intention of coming back to Grenada in the foreseeable future.
He said the local representative for Delta has been put on what he called “another assignment”.
“It’s really, really bad (for the airline industry),” he quipped.
The official urged local tourism officials to start looking outside of the traditional marketplaces and their over reliance on London, New York, Miami and Toronto for visitors and start targeting other places like Montreal in Canada, Boston and Chicago in the U.S.A, Manchester in England, Dublin, Ireland, and the French Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe.
He called for “a major change” in the thinking of the Grenada Airlift Committee to attract more flights into the island and for them to “spread out a little – broaden out”.
“There isn’t anything much to shout about,” he said.