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[Antigua] Fuel Strike May Harm Tourism

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bimjim
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[Antigua] Fuel Strike May Harm Tourism

Unread post by bimjim » Tue Mar 08, 2011

http://www.antiguaobserver.com/?p=55418

Fuel Strike May Harm Tourism
By OBSERVER News
Tuesday, March 8th, 2011.

Tourism and airline stakeholders are warning about possible major fallout from the Chevron standoff as they hold their breaths to find out whether the company’s fuel attendants will return to work at the VC Bird International Airport today.

The fuel attendants stayed away from work for a third consecutive day on Monday, effectively driving up the cost of operation for airlines by forcing them to make costly trips elsewhere for fuel.

The contingency plans being run by the airlines have thus far avoided the need for any flight cancellations but have led to numerous delays and have subjected visiting passengers to extended journeys in order to return to their home countries.

Airline Association President Bernard Ho has warned if the situation does not come to a speedy resolution airlines may consider pulling out of the country.

“They are a set of people that make things work, so therefore when we have a situation we find a way around it but it doesn’t come without costs … so it is now really up to our head offices to decide if they are going to continue operations in light of what is going on,” Ho said.

“It could be very serious indeed for Antigua … the end product is the tourism product of the island is suffering and can suffer very seriously as a result of this.”

Alex De Brito, the vice president of operations at Elite Island Resorts, which controls nearly 20 per cent or 580 of the approximately 3,000 of the hotel rooms on the island, has also warned of possible far reaching consequences.

“For the first two months of the year we’ve been seeing a good improvement in occupancy in the hotels especially from the US and Canadian market … we’re just starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel, and things like this affect the destination, it creates negative comments and negative opinions. So it’s a shame when we are starting to see things recovering that this happens,” De Brito said.

Though the industrial action has not yet affected revenue at Verandah Resort & Spa, St James’s Club, and Galley Bay Resort, the three Elite Island Resort hotels on island, the vice president expressed some worry over the image it creates for visitors and the financial impact on airlines.

“It creates a lot of complications because we need to inform the guests (their) flights are leaving earlier on the last day of departure … it’s very concerning and I hope we can solve that fast because the busiest days at the airport are Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays,” De Brito said.

The striking Chevron fuel attendants are demanding they be sent home and offered severance pay before the US-based energy company completes its sale of its fuels marketing and aviation businesses in the English and French-speaking Caribbean to the French company, Rubis.

Meanwhile, Operations Director at the Antigua & Barbuda Airport Authority Edward Gilkes said, up to press time, the latest advice given to airlines was that no fuel would be available at VC Bird International Airport up to 6 am this morning, but added that advisory is subject to be updated.

In November last year, Chevron announced that it had agreed to sell its fuels marketing and aviation businesses in Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Dominica, St Lucia, St Vincent, Guyana, St Kitts, French Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Trinidad, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize to Vitogaz, SA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rubis, an international downstream petroleum company based in France.

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