Saint Lucia’s tourist board is in talks with British Airways about increasing capacity after Virgin Atlantic announced it would stop flying to the destination after 21 years.

Virgin ran a three-times-a-week service to the island from Gatwick but all flights will stop from June 8 2020.

BA currently runs a daily service to the island.

A spokeswoman for the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority said: “The government and the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority are in regular contact with partner airlines.

“Discussions are already taking place with British Airways on increasing seat capacity.”

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Virgin said its decision to drop the route had “not been taken lightly”. The airline will increase frequency to Antigua from three times a week to four.

Caribbean tour operators said they were “disappointed” with Virgin’s decision.

Carrier’s managing director Mark Duguid said: “The Caribbean remains Carrier’s biggest region, so this is very disappointing news for our St Lucian hoteliers.

“We will continue to support the island, but with BA now the only scheduled operator the lack of competition is sure to be bad news for clients too.”

Caribtours managing director Paul Cleary said: “It’s disappointing. We work really closely with Virgin and Saint Lucia is a major destination for Brits and for us.”

But he said he was not “worried”.

Saint Lucia makes up around 20% of Caribtours’ overall business, of that 35% flies with Virgin.

“Virgin has done what’s best for them and assured me of their commitment to the Caribbean,” Cleary said. “We have a great relationship with Virgin and BA. We’ve worked with BA for 40 years.

“I expect BA to step up because there is an opportunity for them so I’m not worried.”

A statement from the tourist board thanked Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays for their “commitment and support over the past 21 years”.

“Our arrivals figures are growing steadily and this year we are on track to beat our record year in 2018,” the statement said. “We look forward to continue working with our trade partners now and in the future to welcome more visitors from around the world to Saint Lucia

“There is still significant air access with nine direct flights per week from the UK to Saint Lucia, with a daily flight from British Airways, and weekly from Tui and Thomas Cook.”