Submitted by Tea White
In July this year, Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic announced that it would end its flights to St Lucia on 8 June 2020. This decision was taken because the government of St Lucia refused to agree to Virgin’s demand that they hand over some EC$20 million in subsidies to Branson’s monopoly company over a 3 year period. That such a demand could be made by Virgin Atlantic, whose owner, billionaire Richard Branson, styles himself as ‘friend of the Caribbean’ is an absolute outrage.
St Lucia is a poor Caribbean country with significant levels of poverty, no functioning modern hospital, schools in desperate need of repair and upgrading, a dire lack of social services for the elderly and many other needs among the population. Only in the mind of a criminal, could it be justified that money desperately needed to meet the needs of the people to St Lucia should instead be handed over to a billionaire and his millionaire shareholders.
Virgin Atlantic already charges passengers around £1000 to fly to the Caribbean from London during peak seasons and generally charges passengers starting their journey in the Caribbean up to 80% more than those starting their trip in London. There is no justification for any Caribbean government to give Virgin Atlantic one single penny.
Virgin Atlantic’s extortion doesn’t apply just to St Lucia. According to Ernest Hilaire from the St Lucia Labour Party, Virgin Atlantic has demanded in total some EC$21 million per year from the following Caribbean countries: Antigua, Saint Lucia, Grenada and Barbados.
All people of conscience should condemn Richard Branson and his Virgin Atlantic’s bullying and extortion of Caribbean governments.
Virgin Atlantic can be contacted on:
Telephone: +44 (0)344 8110 000