The High Expense of Caribbean Travel

Have you ever thought about island hopping through a tropical region like the Caribbean. It is, in fact, do-able as islands are relatively close to one another. Flight times can be as low as 10-15 minutes depending on what route you're taking. However it is some what of a luxury to be capable of doing inter-island travel as the expense of traveling is high. The cost of inter-island travel has become a pain for most Caribbean islands and its becoming a huge talking point in 2019.

Regional carrier Leeward Island Air Transport (LIAT) became a focal point of the conversation as the airline entered financial difficulties in early 2019 and the likelihood of the airline folding was growing. You might say “if travel is expensive why is the LIAT running out of money?” Well, that's because majority of the expense passengers pay on a ticket isn't going to the airline. That price is an amalgamation of many Taxes, Fees and Charges (TFCs) from other sources in which here lies the issue. Regional travel is the platform for growth and sustaining education, commerce, the creative and tourism sectors among many other industries. But high and increasing TFCs have contributed to the decline in inter-island travel in recent years. When added to the basic fares of carriers TFCs serve to make overall ticket prices significantly more expensive since the majority is passed onto passengers.

How expensive could it be? Surprisingly, looking at a route from, say St. Vincent to Barbados which is a mere 30 minute flight, prices can run up to US$400, and sometimes even more. Other examples include a US$800 ticket from St.Kitts to Montego Bay Jamaica, US$650 from Nassau Bahamas to Kingston Jamaica, US$350 from Turks and Caicos to Port-au-Prince Haiti and so on. Weirdly, it's cheaper for Caribbean Citizens to travel to the US, Canada or European countries for much less. These islands aren’t even properly connected to even assume swallowing the cost of travel when the economics of these island countries are not strong and stable.

Also regional governments are hesitant on adjusting TFCs because of the amount of revenue currently generated by these TFCs. There has been a push to by regionalists to raise awareness on the matter. Currently there is an online petition that should pressure Caribbean Governments to re-evaluate the many policies in place and it is open to anyone.

What's to come for the Carribean aviation industry remains unknown, but what is hoped for, among citizens, is that domestic flying within the region gets significantly cheaper.

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