The inaugural flight of Air Panama that was first scheduled to land at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) on December 3 and then on December 10, is now expected to begin its service in the New Year.
Minister of Health Nickolas Steele told the media during a post-Cabinet Press Briefing that the delay was due to the fact that Air Panama Officials “needed to put some of their logistical and administrative pieces together” before commencing the flight into Grenada from January 2016.
However, days before Minister Steele updated the media on the status of Air Panama’s inaugural flight, President of Milagros International Investment Corporation (MIIC), Jefferson George told a local television newscast that the decision to postpone the flight on two occasions was due to the fact that it was not financially viable at the time.
It was announced in St. George’s last month that Air Panama had partnered with the corporation to launch a twice-weekly flight from Panama into Grenada.
According to George, much more marketing of the Grenada destination was needed to make the flight become financially viable.
He said the postponement of the flight on two occasions was based on a change to the company’s strategy, as Grenada is not well known on the Latin American market.
“At the end of the day it was not… financially viable to operate a charter to prove that we can bring Air Panama here (into) Grenada at the risk of putting the entire programme in jeopardy. So we think that was financially prudent and also a better business move to work on the marketing, put things in place,” he remarked.
George disclosed that the financial investment needed to have the flight operate into Grenada is in excess of US $100,000.
During his contribution to the 2016 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, Opposition Senator Dr. George Vincent alluded to lack of information from government on the tourism industry, querying if there was a policy in place.
“Do we have a policy on going forward with tourism?” he asked.
Dr. Vincent, who served as Tourism Minister in the 2008-13-led Tillman Thomas-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government, stressed that there was a policy framework in place under the former administration, which guided the process.
He also told the House that questions he had filed in the Senate about the cost of airlift have been taken off the Order Paper and as such he was not able to get the information he was seeking.
General Manager of Spice Island Marines, Glyn Evans, now chairs Grenada’s Airlift Committee, the body responsible for helping to increase stay-over arrivals at the international airport at Point Salines.