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Eastern Caribbean Express to begin Operating out of St. Lucia in 2000

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By John Emmanuel

October 7, 1999 - St. Lucia is to be the headquarters for a new regional airline, Eastern Caribbean Express that is to commence operating early in the year 2000.

That announcement was made Wednesday by Tourism and Civil Aviation minister the Hon. Phillip J. Pierre. EC Express will provide more frequent connections to Barbados, Dominica, St. Vincent, Grenada and Tobago, and also serve as a hub for connections from other international carriers.

"St. Lucia is experiencing a surge in investment in tourism and other sectors. Over 400 new hotels rooms are in the final stages of construction and nearly 500 additional rooms will commence shortly. This growth will cause an increase in demand for St. Lucia as a tourist destination both internationally and regionally and by extension increased demand for airlift."

According to Minister Pierre the arrival of the EC Express will have a direct impact on the local economy with over one hundred new jobs having been created in categories like pilots, mechanics and reservation staff.

The new airline which is a subsidiary of International carrier Air Jamaica, will concentrate on creating strategic alliances with other international airlines in the US and Europe.

Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Air Jamaica Allan Chastanet says the new carrier will endeavor to provide an affordable, reliable and on time service to regional travelers. "The connections that EC Express is going to provide will give us the ability to provide additional services into Grenada to augment our own existing service and to be able to offer new markets such as St. Vincent, Dominica and Tobago. We clearly believe that this route has tremendous opportunity out of the Tri-State area in New York."

EC Express is also considering the possibility of providing services through the Montego Bay hub in Jamaica. News of the new regional carrier comes at a time when other US carriers are expressing great interest in the Caribbean.


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