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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, August 18, 2022
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MORE CANCELED FLIGHTS DASH HOTELIERS' HOPES

With 1,100 of American Airlines’ flights canceled Thursday and more scuttled Friday, St. Thomas hoteliers have lost hope of redeeming their holiday weekend bookings.
Nick Pourzal, managing director of Marriott Frenchman’s Reef, said there are no direct flights into St. Thomas and American Eagle is overbooked. People are canceling because they can’t get here.
The other problem: People can’t get out. Pourzal said he has 40 to 50 guests who have had to stay on.
“We are trying to help them," he said. "American is trying, too, but it’s tough.”
Some people don’t mind, others are upset. But even the ones who are saying this is a good place to get stuck are going to feel differently if the pilots' slowdown goes on much longer, Pourzal predicted.
"It's just a real kick in the butt," Richard Doumeng, president of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, told the Daily News.
He also voiced concern that in the future, travelers will pick destinations served by airlines other than American — and that will hurt the Virgin Islands further.
Four of American's arriving flights on St. Thomas were canceled Thursday along with three departing flights when 25 percent of American's pilots called in sick despite a back-to-work order handed down Wednesday by federal judge, the Daily News story said.
St. Thomas hoteliers were looking forward to their best February since 1995.
Doumeng estimated he lost 10 percent of the bookings at his Bolongo Bay Beach Club and Villas for the President's Day weekend.
If tourism officials here are disappointed, so are the visitors who couldn't get here.
"I'm hugely disappointed," said Kathleen Buffon of Chevy Chase, Md., after learning that her Baltimore-San Juan and San Juan-St. Thomas flights Friday morning had been canceled.
Though she tried to book other flights to St. Thomas any time over the Valentine's Day weekend as she and her husband had planned, no flights were open until Wednesday.
"I'm really mad," she said.
Not all St. Thomas hotels are feeling the pain from the pilots' sickout.
Becca Nelsen, sales and reservations manager at Pavillions and Pools, said though some of her guests have had to extend their stays because they couldn’t get flights out, she has had no incoming cancellations as a result of the American slowdown.
So far, she said, Pavillions and Pools has been able to accommodate the extensions and the incoming guests.
“It could get tight on Saturday and Sunday though,” Nelsen said.
She said incoming guests have been flying American Eagle from San Juan to St. Thomas. “Apparently they were able to get to San Juan,” Nelsen said.
The pilot slowdown began last Friday and hit the Virgin Islands hard by Wednesday when the airline canceled nearly all its direct flights to and from the mainland.
Pourzal said the slowdown and cancellations would take a heavy toll in an already fragile season. The result could be disastrous, he said.
The pilots' sickout reflects their unhappiness 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 the slowdown could be economically “devastating” to the islands.
Amy Atkinson of Martin Public Relations, the territory's mainland P.R. firm, said it underscored the difficulties of having one airline dominate the market.

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With 1,100 of American Airlines’ flights canceled Thursday and more scuttled Friday, St. Thomas hoteliers have lost hope of redeeming their holiday weekend bookings.
Nick Pourzal, managing director of Marriott Frenchman’s Reef, said there are no direct flights into St. Thomas and American Eagle is overbooked. People are canceling because they can’t get here.
The other problem: People can’t get out. Pourzal said he has 40 to 50 guests who have had to stay on.
“We are trying to help them," he said. "American is trying, too, but it’s tough.”
Some people don’t mind, others are upset. But even the ones who are saying this is a good place to get stuck are going to feel differently if the pilots' slowdown goes on much longer, Pourzal predicted.
"It's just a real kick in the butt," Richard Doumeng, president of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, told the Daily News.
He also voiced concern that in the future, travelers will pick destinations served by airlines other than American -- and that will hurt the Virgin Islands further.
Four of American's arriving flights on St. Thomas were canceled Thursday along with three departing flights when 25 percent of American's pilots called in sick despite a back-to-work order handed down Wednesday by federal judge, the Daily News story said.
St. Thomas hoteliers were looking forward to their best February since 1995.
Doumeng estimated he lost 10 percent of the bookings at his Bolongo Bay Beach Club and Villas for the President's Day weekend.
If tourism officials here are disappointed, so are the visitors who couldn't get here.
"I'm hugely disappointed," said Kathleen Buffon of Chevy Chase, Md., after learning that her Baltimore-San Juan and San Juan-St. Thomas flights Friday morning had been canceled.
Though she tried to book other flights to St. Thomas any time over the Valentine's Day weekend as she and her husband had planned, no flights were open until Wednesday.
"I'm really mad," she said.
Not all St. Thomas hotels are feeling the pain from the pilots' sickout.
Becca Nelsen, sales and reservations manager at Pavillions and Pools, said though some of her guests have had to extend their stays because they couldn’t get flights out, she has had no incoming cancellations as a result of the American slowdown.
So far, she said, Pavillions and Pools has been able to accommodate the extensions and the incoming guests.
“It could get tight on Saturday and Sunday though,” Nelsen said.
She said incoming guests have been flying American Eagle from San Juan to St. Thomas. “Apparently they were able to get to San Juan,” Nelsen said.
The pilot slowdown began last Friday and hit the Virgin Islands hard by Wednesday when the airline canceled nearly all its direct flights to and from the mainland.
Pourzal said the slowdown and cancellations would take a heavy toll in an already fragile season. The result could be disastrous, he said.
The pilots' sickout reflects their unhappiness 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 the slowdown could be economically “devastating” to the islands.
Amy Atkinson of Martin Public Relations, the territory's mainland P.R. firm, said it underscored the difficulties of having one airline dominate the market.