THE MONTSERRAT government has announced that St Vincent and the Grenadines Airline (SVG Air) would be increasing the number of flights to the volcano-ravaged island after the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) grounded Fly Montserrat aircraft following a second incident within 10 days.
Premier Reuben Meade said discussions would continue with SVG Air and another regional airline to ensure that with the coming festival season, visitors are able to travel to and from Montserrat.
He said the ferry would serve as another reliable alternative for nationals and others planning to go home for the annual festival celebrations. Montserrat will celebrate its 50th cultural festival from December 14 to January 2.
"It's important to reiterate that we are aware of the critical importance of residents and visitors being able to travel when they need to. That is why we have been pursuing relationships with other carriers to ensure that both our air and sea access meet the needs of travellers," Meade said.
Montserrat is now soliciting bids for both ferry and air travel services to support the current transportation needs.
The ECCAA grounded Fly Montserrat on Tuesday after the plane skidded off the runway stopping metres before a cliff.
Seven people, including the pilot, escaped injury after Flight 2109 forced the closure of the John Osborne Airport after "going off the side of the runway".
On October 7, three people including the pilot and Jamaican Annya Duncan were killed after a Fly Montserrat plane crashed soon after taking off from the V.C. Bird international airport in Antigua.
The ECCAA has written to Fly Montserrat restricting it from flying into any ECCAA country, mainly within the nine-member sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.
On Monday (Oct 15), the airline's owner, Nigel Harris sought to give the public an assurance regarding the safety of the airline, saying it is properly regulated by British-based regulators.