#Caribbean – March 17, 2020 — At least 16 Caribbean countries will be adversely impacted by the decision of Calgary-based airline, WestJet, which has announced a freeze on international flights as of March 23.
In a media statement, WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims said: “WestJetters are known for our level of care and this situation is no different. While this is a difficult time, we now have the responsibility as a Canadian airline to bring our citizens home.”
Additionally, it was reported that, WestJet will be lowering ticket prices for any remaining seats into Canada for those trying to return. The airline’s domestic flight schedule is also being reduced by 50 per cent for the next 30 days.
Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, on Monday summoned Canadians home and today, Ontario has declared a state of emergency after 32 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded for the province on Monday.
At least 150 countries have recorded cases of the dreaded disease which has sickened over 180,000 people. More concerning is the COVID-19 death toll has soared past 7,100 people in its three-month existence.
In the Turks and Caicos, the loss of WestJet will be significant as Canadians account for around 8.5 percent of long stay visitors to the country. In 2018, nearly 38,000 Canadians travelled to the Turks and Caicos; that was up four percent according to the TCI Tourist Board.
West Jet flies into Turks and Caicos four times per week; Sundays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
WestJet flight handlers at the Providenciales International Airport, PLS say changes will actually be felt sooner than next week, by March 19 and it is anticipated that the airline will terminate service to the PLS this weekend.
WestJet flies to Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman, Cuba, Curcao, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Sint Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos.