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Published on Friday, July 26, 2019

Virgin to scrap flights to St Lucia

Virgin Atlantic is to cease flights to St Lucia from next June after serving the island from London for 21 years.

The airline is understood to be pulling the service from Gatwick after the St Lucia government refused to subsidise it.

The airline said Virgin Holidays will continue to offer packages to St Lucia after June 8, 2020 through connecting flights via partner airlines.

Virgin said the decision to withdraw from St Lucia was 'not taken lightly'.

Sources close to the tourism industry told St Lucia Times that Virgin Atlantic's decision to scrap the route was linked to a stalemate over the payment of subsidies to the airline.

According to the sources, Virgin Atlantic was 'demanding' a $2.5 million injection to maintain the flight, which the St Lucia government refused to pay.

They said it was felt that subsidising the airline would open the floodgates for other carriers to request similar treatment.

Virgin currently operates three flights a week to the island, from where flights connect to Grenada and Tobago. From next June, passengers can connect through Antigua instead, said Virgin, which will increase its Gatwick to Antigua service from three to four flights a week.

A statement from Virgin said: "As part of a recent network review, we've evolved our Caribbean offering, to ensure we continue to serve destinations most loved by our customers.

"Unfortunately, this means we will cease flying to St Lucia for the foreseeable future.It's never easy to withdraw from a destination and it's not a decision we've taken lightly.

"We'd like to thank our customers and teams in St Lucia for their loyalty and dedication over the last 21 years and are sad to say goodbye to this fantastic island."

When questioned whether the move was related to subsidies, a Virgin spokesperson said: "We're ceasing operations due to a variety of economic factors. We would never disclose details of private conversations with any partners."

Virgin will move its Havana service from Gatwick to Heathrow and at the same time increase Upper Class capacity on the route by 63% by switching to an A330.

The airline is also planning to add flights to New York and Boston from Gatwick, with further details to be released later.

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  • What Happened

    Interesting insights here

    By John Grant, Friday, July 26, 2019

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