On Saturday, July 13 at about 1:45 p.m. the inaugural flight of United Airlines touched down at Hewanorra International Airport, Vieux Fort from Newark International in the US. The flight was greeted with the ceremonial water salute by the Saint Lucia Fire Service. Passengers then disembarked to the sound of steel band music on the tarmac. Among the hundreds of passengers on the flight were tourism Minister Lorne Theophilus, Director of Tourism Louis Lewis, Lorraine Charles St Jules, Regional Manager North-East Region USA, as well as the Director of United Airlines. They were greeted by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Port Services Phillip J Pierre and other tourism officials.
During a short ceremony in the VIP Lounge at the airport, the Minister of Tourism spoke of his elation with the arrival of the flight following months of negotiations.
“This indeed shows the commitment of the Government of Saint Lucia towards answering the needs of our hoteliers in Saint Lucia, one of those being the fact that we need to drive airlift to the destination,” the Minister stated. “And this effort between ourselves and United Airlines is in fact the realization of months of work which has gone into making this dream a reality,” he added. The Minister went on to express the expectation that with increase in demand, the flight that is now once weekly, could increase in time to come.
“We are very thankful as well that this partnership can come to fruition and hope that it can gel into something which is strong and long lasting for the benefit of your company and the Government and people of Saint Lucia,” Theophilus expressed to the United Airlines officials.
Millie Uriante, Director of United Airlines said on Saturday that the airline was pleased to be launching its new weekly service from Newark.
“United Airlines is thrilled to begin offering service from the beautiful island of Saint Lucia to its most efficient airport in the New York area, Newark International,” Uriante said. “Our flight in which we have just arrived will provide convenient connections to twenty two key cities in the US, including Chicago, Boston and Washington DC. We also connect to various Canadian destinations which is also great, bringing all that traffic Saint Lucia.”
The United Airlines director then thanked the customers, travel agents and tourism officials of Saint Lucia in welcoming United Airlines to the island.
“We look forward to a very successful partnership and again we start with one time weekly but we intend to see the demand increase and hopefully to provide more service,” she ended by saying.
Caroline Troubesky the SLHT president who was also present thanked United Airlines on behalf of hoteliers here.
“We have so much looked forward to this day and we hope that this is a long lasting relationship between our beautiful island and United Airlines,” Troubesky said.
Also offering a few brief remarks on Saturday, Phillip J Pierre said he was happy and deemed himself fortunate to witness the arrival of a new flight into Saint Lucia.
“Saint Lucia depends on tourism,” he expressed. “Tourism is the second largest employer and largest earner of foreign exchange. So the industry is extremely important to us. The Government of Saint Lucia believes that by having affordable airlift and the work of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, is going to attract more visitors into Saint Lucia. In this regard we hope the flight will grow from one to two and maybe three and who knows maybe five!”