ANTIGUA | Antigua/Barbuda Slashes Taxes on Airline Tickets for Regional Travel
ST. JOHNS, Antigua, August 28, 2021 - Prime Minister Gaston Browne says ffective today Antigua and Barbuda will slash its airport taxes on airline tickets in half for travel within CARICOM.
Over the weekend, Browne said that regional travel was reduced significantly as a consequence of very high airport taxes, and he is hoping to tackle the problem head-on.
“For every country LIAT enters, there are airport taxes for the passengers. Our airport tax is US$97.00 and if you enter Barbados there is another tax. So technically…. half of your ticket cost is travel taxes,” he said.
This matter first came up during an OECS meeting about three weeks ago when Prime Minister Browne announced his intention to lobby further for a reduction in regional air travel taxes, when he takes on the role of Caricom chairman next month.
“We will be trying to get it on the CARICOM agenda to get a consensus at the OECS and CARICOM level. At this time when regional travel is extremely flat, there is really nothing to lose,” he said.
The issue of high travel taxes has been a vexing one for many Caribbean nationals and, despite many public pleas and acknowledgement on the part of regional officials, there has been no significant movement in this regard for several years.
Browne’s proposal will be one in which Antigua and Barbuda will ask CARICOM countries to move in lockstep with each other.
The reduction is for six months in the first instance after which it will be reviewed.
“We will then see how it impacts on revenue, and make a final determination going forward as to what percentage is sustainable,” he said.
Prime Minister Browne – revealed during a discussion on Twitter that he would be assuming the leadership of Caricom next month, and that advocating for the reduction of the travel taxes would be on his agenda.
He insisted that the ongoing pandemic has provided a window for that reduction to be attempted, due to the suspension of financial commitments for most regional airports.
“When you look at the fact that Covid has literally provided the opportunity for us to have a debt standstill, in that most of these airport loans are not being serviced at this time; the fact too that there’s practically little revenue from intra regional travel, I’m of the view – I raised this point at the level of the OECS and certainly will be driving it home when I take over the chairmanship of Caricom in July – that now is the time for us to cut the tax, even by 50 percent.
“I do accept that you may not be able to determine the elasticity of pricing on travel demand, because intraregional travel will remain relatively low during this period of Covid, but the fact that you’re hardly collecting anything at this point, it is not revenue you’re giving away. You can’t give away what you’re not earning.”