Virgin Atlantic Moves Barbados Flights To “Highly Prized” Heathrow Slots!

Good For Barbados, Not So Good For Jamaica…

We’re sorry there has to be a loser in this shift, but happy that Virgin Atlantic thinks enough of Barbados as a destination to move it’s Barbados flights from Gatwick to Heathrow.

This hasn’t been “formally” announced yet, but the Jamaica Observer is running the story on the first page, so it looks like a done-deal. Here are some excerpts (and thanks to a early-riser reader for the tip)…

Barbados Gets Air Jamaica’s Heathrow Slots

VIRGIN Atlantic has decided to move its Barbados flights from Gatwick to London’s Heathrow, in the slots controversially sold by Air Jamaica, impeccable Observer sources said yesterday.

The decision which means that the highly prized slots have gone to a competing Caribbean destination, comes a week before Virgin, the United Kingdom’s second largest carrier, launches its new twice-a-week Gatwick to Kingston flights under the Memorandum of Understanding signed with Air Jamaica in May this year.

And in what is bound to be viewed as another blow to Jamaica, the UK airline is also likely to reduce the number of flights from London to Jamaica – from four to three – in the summer of 2008, the Observer sources revealed.

Travel industry experts also expect Jamaica’s loss situation to worsen, saying that Jamaica-bound passengers on flights connecting through Heathrow from continental Europe, would find it more stressful getting to the island and may just vacation elsewhere.

Virgin has apparently not yet made a formal announcement of the decision to move its Barbados flights to Heathrow, and efforts to get comments from the airline proved futile yesterday.

But travel industry sources in London said last night that Virgin had always wanted to move its flights from Gatwick to Bridgetown, the Barbados capital, which is a very popular destination among Britons, on grounds that it would enjoy a greater advantage out of Heathrow.

This week, the airline finally decided to move the flights beginning December 11, 2007 and until March 17, 2008. At the same time, Virgin Atlantic is pressing ahead with its plans to launch its Gatwick-Kingston service on October 30, undaunted by signs that the new Jamaican government is frowning on the sell-off of the Heathrow slots.

… read the entire article at The Jamaica Observer (link here)

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24 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Traveling and Tourism

24 responses to “Virgin Atlantic Moves Barbados Flights To “Highly Prized” Heathrow Slots!

  1. Adrian Loveridge

    If comfirmed, this provides an excellent tourism opportunity for Barbados.
    We sadly lose a lot of potential Continental European business because many of their scheduled flights currently fly into Heathrow and travellers do not like the indeterminate time and hassle it takes to transfer from Heathrow to Gatwick.

    If I was Virgin now, I would be looking at creative ways to feed Continental Europeans into seamless connections onto these LHR/BGI flights.
    And where this is not possible explore the possibilities of contracting Heathrow airport hotels to include complimentary overnight stays, at least in one direction.

    Virgin Heathrow/Barbados flights would also replace the gap left by BWIA which cost us 10,000 seats per year in airplane capacity.

  2. Wishing in Vain

    No offence to Virgin as I think they are doing a great job despite Noeless Lynch’s best efforts to put the industry in turmoil.
    To me the real problem is that Virgin does not have the intercontinental interconnection and flights as say BA would have as BA has feeder flights from throught out Europe and the world where they would be better able to feed the LHR / BGI flight but as it stands having to buy flights on two different airlines creates additional booking cost, as would be the case with the Virgin arrangement.

  3. notesfromthemargin

    Gee WIV you can find the cloud attached to any silver lining 😀

  4. Why why

    NDTM, well said. Adrian you are spot on with this one

  5. Jay

    It is official, go to the latest news section of http://www.virgin-atlantic.com

    It is only happening from December 11th to March 17th 2008.

  6. Michael Mason

    I have been monitoring Virgin Atlantic agreement with Air Jamaica since complying a Detailed Investigation Report back in June 2005. The report highlights the problems with one flight and gives me the reasons why the Jamaicans and the tourists prefer to use other airlines to get to this beautiful island.
    Air Jamaica have followed BWIA into decline.
    What makes it sad is that ignorance should have been eradicated long time ago.
    It is nice that Virgin will provide a much needed and more profitable route to Barbados from Heathrow but this means that we have to depend on them. At the same time the locals have to pay a hugh price to travel especially in emergency, no alternative airlines.
    This is the same for alot of the windward islands.

  7. Wishing in Vain

    I am sure for you notesfromthemargin you consider him to be a wonderful and honest minister of gov’t the reality is that he is neither of those.
    He is a hopeless case and maybe the worst minister of tourism this island has had the misfortune of having.

  8. the result of a stupid decision by Air Jamaica

  9. notesfromthemargin

    WIV I actually was referring to the comment about Virgin’s lack of interconnections. I didn’t bring Noel Lynch into this, you did.

    “When all you have is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail”

  10. Hants

    5 years ago $1 canadian was $1.25 Barbados.
    Today $1 Canadian is $2.04 Barbados.

    Adrian L… do you think the BTA could capitalise on the Canadian market at this time?

  11. peltdownman

    Adrian is right, don’t underestimate Virgin’s ability to get European carriers to agree a fare-sharing deal. Getting Heathrow slots is a real coup in the airline industry, and the champers must have been flowing at Virgin head office when they took over the routes. However, don’t look for Virgin to be bargain for anyone flying from this end. I have noticed that out of Barbados, they have become more expensive that BA recently, in all classes. Their need to share revenue with European connectors from Heathrow will mean the dilution will have to be made up from this end. Still, if it’s tourism that is going to benefit, so much the better.

  12. peltdownman

    “Comments are wide open no moderation for now???????????”

  13. Wishing in Vain

    Yes she was facing some issues with regards to some activities that were not entirely above board in conjunction with her boyfriend.

  14. Adrian Loveridge

    Hants…

    I still think there is enormous potential in the Canadian market for Barbados.

    When WestJet, which as you know is Canada’s second largest carrier and a low cost airline, announced it was going to shortly operate a service between Toronto and St. Lucia, I contacted them and asked them to consider a once-weekly service from Halifax to Barbados.

    Ideally on a Saturday or Sunday (honeymoon market).

    Air Canada have tried this route at least a couple of times, but I am still convinced we can fill a A319 or B737 (120 seats) once a week out of the Maritimes.

    Of course the current value of the CAD$ makes Mexico, the DM, Cuba and others even cheaper but I am convinced we can re-capture some of our lost Canadian market.

  15. Adrian Loveridge

    I have just looked at the arrival/departure times of VS29 and VS30.
    Our groups arrive on a Tuesday, now at 20.20hrs
    and depart on a Friday at 22.30hrs.

    I wonder if anyone has really thought this through with the accommodation element of the holiday?

  16. Why why

    WIV, you are up to your usual tricks I see… gossip mongering is not becoming.. keep it for George St.

  17. Hants

    Adrian….. You are correct about recapturing the Canadian market.

    However I think that the affluent Canadians in the major cities should also be a target market.

    I do not know what the BTA marketing strategy is for Canada but I think the time has come for Prime time,in your face, TV ads on Toronto and Montreal Tv.

    Most travel agencies in Toronto do not sell Barbados. Some have their agents sell Cuba,the Dominican and Mexico and the brochures about Barbados sit in a corner.

    The agents do what is best for themselves. Quick sales to cheap destinations.

  18. Anonymous

    PDMan said…and quite rightly…
    “don’t look for Virgin to be bargain for anyone flying from this end.
    I have noticed that out of Barbados, they have become more expensive that BA recently, in all classes.
    Their need to share revenue with European connectors from Heathrow will mean the dilution will have to be made up from this end.”

    Luckily we West Indians are more rolling-in-it than the ‘loaded’ Europeans, and so we can well afford to get ripped-off, again and again and again.
    I look fwd. to the day when environmental necessity(choking to death) happens to those who spread VOLUMES of stinking polluting emissions at 30,000-40,000 ft. elevations, an atmospheric pollution factor that the man in the street barely comprehends, far less notices!
    A POX on the (hi-altitude-jet)Airline Industries! – bastards all of them, mercenary corporate vultures all of them, BA, Virgin all of them

  19. Wishing in Vain

    Adrian you really ought to send this to Noeless Lynch with a covering note despite your best effort Mr Lynch well still manage to stand out,I also notice that none of the GEMS properties that were renovated to fill this area of accomodation got a look in on this, what does that tell you????

    New York Times picks Peach and Quiet and Sea-U!

    A New York Times Travel article featured two terrific Bajan hotels as their top picks for budget-conscious tourists. Both Peach and Quiet and Sea-U! received excellent reviews. No GEMS hotels were recommended, although the two hotels featured are “gems” indeed. The New York Times has millions of readers, and this article and others on Barbados will help bring in more foreign exchange. The ratings and readers’ suggestions page is a good place to add recommendations.

    Peach and Quiet host Adrian Loveridge mentioned the article in a comment on the widely-popular blog Barbados Underground

  20. Adrian Loveridge

    When I read about Virgin’s move from Gatwick to Heathrow, I though great, perhaps we could try and regain some our our lost Continental European market.

    That was until I saw the flight timings.

    An arrival in GAIA at 8.30pm will mean that most guests will not be checking into their hotels until after 10pm.
    On their last day, especially in the busy winter period, most hotels will need the guests to vacate the rooms by 11am for incoming people, but their flight does not depart until 10.30pm.

    There is a psychological plus when visitors arrive during the afternoon in daylight and still have time for swim or relax before going to bed.

    A number of our guests who have already booked for this winter have started to change flights to British Airways and I wonder (again) if Virgin have really thought this through.

    I did attempt several times to email Rachel Pilgrim of Virgin with my concerns but the message keeps being bounced back undelivered.
    The same message to Colin Symes has yet to get a response.

  21. Thistle

    According to Mr. Loveridge, Virgin flights will arrive at GAIA at 8.30 p.m. That is GROSSLY inconvenient. Why such an ungodly hour? I usually fly to/from London on Virgin, but I can assure you I will be using BA. I have to agree with Mr. Loveridge – wondering if Virgin have really thought this through.

  22. Wishing in Vain

    Hello,

    This email address is being phased out. Please remove it from your contacts list and replace it with:
    Helen.Richmond@virginholidays.co.uk

    Thank you

  23. Adrian Loveridge

    Just as I thought, one of our tour operators has changed flights from Virgin to British Airways, as new arrival and departure times just make their programme too difficult to handle.

    20 seats here, 20 seats there. They all add up to filling the aircraft.

  24. 48

    why is this still posted this happened two yrs ago!!!