Two months after moving in to fill the void left by regional airline LIAT, Air Antilles has suspended its Eastern Caribbean operations with dreams of opening up a gateway to Europe now deferred.
The French-based carrier said in a statement that it had taken the decision because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It said: “Air Antilles has today announced a temporary suspension of all air services until further notice. This comes as a result of even more restrictive measures between Paris and its home base in the French West Indies, as well as increased travel protocol restrictions in the Caribbean islands because of the COVID pandemic.
“The cessation of flights will take effect from Tuesday, Jan 19, 2021, and will directly impact its current service between Barbados, St Lucia and Dominica.
The company regrets the decision and would like to thank its loyal passengers and trade partners.”
At a press conference back in October, Air Antilles’ Chief Commercial Officer Romain Hordel revealed that the airline was already providing eight weekly flights from Barbados to St Lucia and four weekly flights to Dominica.
He said two additional direct flights out of Barbados to Antigua and St Martin were also on the cards.
Hordel said the airline’s goal was to provide safe, affordable and reliable service throughout the Caribbean.
Eric Kourry, who founded Air Antilles parent Companie Aérienne Interrégoinale Express (CAIRE) had also hinted at the possibility of Air Antilles providing a direct flight to Europe from Barbados “in the not too distant future”.
He disclosed that talks had already started between Air Antilles and one of France’s major airlines Corsair, over a possible takeover. He said if an agreement was reached, it could provide direct airlift to Europe from Barbados.
Kourry said then: “It has already hit the French news that a group of investors and I are actively in the culminating stages of negotiations to purchase France’s second-largest airline Corsair.
“So, with this prospect in mind, Barbados stands to reap a two-fold benefit with an additional direct European connection out of a major French gateway.”