Barbados will remain closed to commercial airline traffic until June 30.
However, Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Kerrie Symmonds, said the June 30 date is not a definitive one for the return of international flights to the Grantley Adams International Airport.
Symmonds made the disclosure during a bi-monthly digital media briefing on the tourism sector.
“I cannot give you a date on which the airlines will be returning. We have taken a position that the airport remains closed to commercial traffic until the 30th of next month,” Symmonds said.
“The take away from that meeting is that there is no competitive advantage that anybody has over the other in terms of being safe. We all want the highest degree of safety that we can have.”– Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Kerrie Symmonds
“If the happy circumstances arise that you have significant improvements, and we can feel confident that it is easy to reopen, then that decision will be taken, but until such time we are going to be very guarded on this matter, and go as fast as the data and the circumstances allow us to feel comfortable.
“Going about it phase by phase and step by step gives us an opportunity to protect our people while giving us an opportunity to develop some economic activity which is absolutely critical to the same people as well,” he said.
Commercial traffic into the island came to a halt from mid-March this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Symmonds told the press that safety was a priority for Barbados, and any decision taken to reopen the sector will “not be date driven, but rather data driven”.
“I want to make it clear that we have not settled yet on any definitive course of action, not just in Barbados, but across the Caribbean and also with the airlines.”
Further, he said Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Allen Chastanet, both chaired a meeting with airlines that service the region last week and that they understand the position.
“The airlines understand what we are trying to achieve…Their interest as well is safely. The take away from that meeting is that there is no competitive advantage that anybody has over the other in terms of being safe. We all want the highest degree of safety that we can have. Nobody feels comfortable in reopening until you have been able to secure, first of all, the well-being of the people in your country and the workers, and secondly the visitors to the island,” he said.
The Transport Minister said protocols, including rapid COVID-19 testing, are being examined based on data and managing risks.