ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture, John Maginley has taken issue with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) regarding its February 27 letter voicing concerns over proposed increases to Antigua & Barbuda’s airport fees.
In an exclusive interview, Maginley said, “The total given by IATA is factually incorrect. The general comment that they made that Antigua is now higher than the rest of the region is clearly not correct.”
Maginley said the combined travel tax is US $75, as IATA claimed, but is US $63.75. He went on to say that that number is lower than many other Caribbean destinations, including Anguilla, St Lucia, any other in the region with the exception of St Vincent & the Grenadines, at US $62.45.
The minister also indicated his intent to write a letter to IATA, taking them to task over the inaccuracies in the letter and their failure to contact the ministry for the correct charges and information required.
The Antigua & Barbuda airline association has criticised the government’s proposition to levy new airline charges. It’s chairman, Bernard Ho has said the new taxes would be ill-timed.
“It is not going to go down with passengers generally … The current revenue sources are there and are in place and are being paid on behalf of the passengers by the airlines.” he said.
“We need to find out why those are not sufficient … Those we understood were sufficient before, so we were not too sure why they are not sufficient now,” Ho said.
The IATA letter called the tax “excessive” and stated that it “far exceeds the regional average and well beyond a viable level for the airlines.”
It also said that the fees would add an additional 42 per cent to round trip ticket costs to Antigua & Barbuda, per customer.
The Airport Administration Charge Act of 2012 is being introduced to generate funds to complete upgrades to the VC Bird International Airport, including a new terminal.
Currently, Caricom nationals pay EC $50 and all other passenger pay a US $25 charge upon departing.
According to the new fare structure, there will no longer be a distinction between Caricom and international travellers as everyone will pay the same fee.
In addition to the changes in the fee structure, it will now be built into the ticket; eliminating the need for paying the Departure Tax at the airport.