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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, December 4, 2023


V.I. hoteliers, looking forward to a busy Presidents Day holiday weekend, are hoping American Airlines flights are back to normal today after a federal judge in Dallas ordered the pilots back to work Wednesday.
When the judge made his ruling, all three American flights to St. Thomas — two from Miami, one from New York — had been canceled.
It remains to be seen whether the pilots will follow the order to go "back to the cockpits."
People trying to fly in and out of St. Thomas this week had a shaky time, as the pilot slowdown began affecting flights here. Flights to San Juan also were affected, which also hurt V.I. travelers.
Amy Atkinson of Martin Public Relations said at midweek, “It’s tough. We’re in day four and coming up on the three-day Valentine’s Day weekend.”
Atkinson said one of her groups from Girl Magazine had a hard time getting back to Atlanta from St. Thomas in the last few days. She also said a journalist coming down to cover an event at Tillett Gardens is having a hard time getting here.
“This has been in the works for months," she said. "It’ll be a shame if he can’t get here.”
The four American hubs that were most heavily affected by the pilots' slowdown are Dallas-Fort Worth, New York, Chicago and Miami, according to national media reports. Three of the four daily direct flights into St. Thomas originate in New York and Miami.
The slowdown began Friday and resulted in some passengers getting stranded in St. Thomas. But local officials said earlier in the week that it was hard to gauge how it is affecting inbound traffic.
Nick Pourzal, managing director of Marriott's Frenchman's Reef, said Tuesday that the slowdown and cancellations were a real problem that would take its toll in an already fragile season. If it drags on, it could be disastrous, according to Pourzal.
The cancellations were a result of a slowdown by pilots who are concerned about the impact of a merger between American and Reno Air. Pilots for American make $150,000. Reno Air pilots make about half that amount.
The territory is already facing serious economic problems, which many people, including hoteliers, blame on the dearth of airline seats to St. Thomas and St. Croix.
Joe Aubain of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce said any slowdown could be economically “devastating” to the islands.
Atkinson of Martin Public Relations said it underscored the difficulties of having one airline dominate the market.

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