May 13, 2005 – Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards has postponed a press conference regarding the "Seasonal Service Arrangement" between the V.I. government and American Eagle Executive Airlines.
A press release from his office Thursday said, "It has been postponed to a later date pending full reconciliation of the financial data."
The plan was announced with much fanfare at a press conference last December (See "Eagle Resumes Flights Between St. Croix, St. Thomas").
A month after the three flights daily between St. Thomas and St. Croix were announced they fell under scrutiny when it was learned the government was partially subsidizing the flights (See "V.I. Government Subsidizing American Eagle Flights").
What followed was a tug of war with the lieutenant governor's office on one side and media sources and the V.I. legislature on the other as more information about the contract with American Eagle was demanded. Richards refused to release the information, citing a confidentiality clause.(See "Lieutenant Governor Defends Questioned Contract").
The contract ended and the flights were terminated on May 1. The public still had not received all details of the contract. However, Richards had said that any shortfall in the contract experienced by American Eagle would be made up with funds from the St. Croix Economic Development Fund.
The V.I. government has helped subsidize Danish charter flights. That program has been termed a success and has been credited by St. Croix business people as keeping the tourism industry alive on St. Croix after cruise ships quit visiting the island in any significant numbers.
Senate President Lorraine Berry countered Richards arguments saying "If we subsidize American Eagle with public money, all other carriers will wonder why they didn't have that option."
There are unconfirmed reports that both Cape Air and Seaborne Airlines lost revenue during the period of the contract.
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