The news of the layoff of the American Airlines employees on St. Thomas and St. Croix is devastating to the individuals, their families and the community. American Airlines attributes the action to the "near bankruptcy" of its operations and the 25 percent increase in landing fees.
The employees are in the tough position of having to move to another station or find employment somewhere else. If they decide to move, they will have to compete with other employees from other stations and if successful, uproot their families.
The handling of their passengers by American Eagle may or may not produce the level of services offered by the carrier. This action hurts. I would have thought of a partial layoff, but not the entire staff.
The action of the Port Authority has come home to haunt the economy of the territory. I believe that the increase in fees might have been necessary, but the governor and the Legislature — for the good of the overall economy — should consider an annual appropriation to the Port Authority and avoid fee increases until the Authority's revenue picture changes. Everything which comes into the economy as trade comes through the Port Authority. It is a vital part of the V.I. infrastructure. The Governor and the members of the Legislature must reorder the priorities of the territory and take appropriate actions.
Eric E. Dawson
Editor's note: Eric Dawson was formerly a V.I. Commissioner of the Economic Development and Agriculture Department.
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