For what can only be described as inequitable, unfortunately there really is no such thing as a cheap or competitive flight price on flights within the Caribbean, or to the Caribbean these days. Whilst fuel prices are increasing, regional taxes account for 50 per cent of the cost of regional fares and for individuals visiting from the United Kingdom, there is the financial burden of the astronomically high Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax to take into account.
The fact that there is generally very little competition on regional or on scheduled flights to the Caribbean is in essence the principal of these exaggerated airfares. The price of travelling between the Caribbean islands by air is comparative to a package holiday during low season.
Caribbean destinations are even more expensive than they traditionally have been and this is due to one airline in particular in possession of the monopoly, and using this to cripple the average individual who wishes to travel.
The average employee in Antigua & Barbuda is diligent and reliable due to their integrity, but also the knowledge that any abatement to their motivation could make their efforts within a company dispensable. Now when inspecting the average salary or household income of an Antiguan & Barbudan, one has to then marvel at the airfares concocted by airlines such as LIAT.
Inter-island flights within the Caribbean are ridiculously expensive, as there is virtually no competition and finding a bargain, or what could be considered a fair or dare say an affordable price, is bordering on impossible in relation to long-haul destinations.
For years many in the Caribbean have complained that the high prices of LIAT’s tickets make it almost impossible for ordinary people to travel.
CEO of LIAT, Ian Brunton, has explained the airline’s position concerning the high cost of airfare in the region being due to the airline having to deal with thin and fragmented markets, limited economies of scale, and high fuel costs.
That being said; what does this mean to the common man?
Absolutely nothing but an understanding that they must part with their hard earned wages and pay an iniquitous amount of money to travel due to sickness, visiting relatives or simply to enjoy the vacation time they have earned.
They must work hard and, due to the lack of competition in the inter-island travel industry, be charged prices that can be described as daylight robbery. Paying a price similar to US$250 to US$300 for a flight that could possibly be 60 minutes or less cannot be justified to the average individual.
When flights are fully booked as you are the only airline scheduled to these particular destinations, it is not possible to translate the formula used to calculate these prices. Even if the calculations and explanations were offered, the average person has no interest unless they witness the figures they are expected to pay are reduced.
There should be the opportunity to travel somewhere alternative to where you reside without having to plan and save for months, take out a loan or waiting patiently on box monies.
There is a plethora of places and cultures to experience, but when it is so costly to visit your neighbouring island, then what hope has the average Caribbean individual got of experiencing much more than what their own island has to offer?