USVI Sees Big Increase in Air Arrivals

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - December 19, 2012

Above: St Croix

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The United States Virgin Islands is reporting its highest levels of air arrivals since the mid-1990s, according to a report from Texas-based consultants Reynolds, Smith and Hills.

The report, which was retained by the Virgin Islands Port Authority, found that air traffic is up 9.9 percent over the previous fiscal period.

Passenger traffic was the highest since 1994, at 700,550 at St Thomas’ Cyril E King airport. At St Croix’s Henry E Rohlsen airport, the total of 224,672 was the highest since 2001.

“On a nationwide basis, the US economy remains relatively stagnant as recovery has not fully occurred from the recent recession — unemployment is at higher than normal levels. The poor economy and higher jet fuel prices have caused national air passenger traffic to decline or be flat,” the report said. “This makes the strong increase in 2012 Virgin Islands Port Authority aviation traffic even more remarkable.”

Projections for the 2012-2013 fiscal year show a 1.4-percent increase in total weekly seats to St Thomas to 18,246 from 17,989. St Croix’s weekly air capacity is projected to fall less than 10 percent, however.

“Acting to maintain airlift and spur economic growth in the Territory continues to be our top priority as we enter a new calendar year,” said Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty, who said she was optimistic about the sector as the winter season begins.

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