How much is Barbados paying GOL Airlines to fly to the island?

Tourism Minister Sealy does a little dance

The headline in The Nation states “Sealy clears air on Gol lure“. The “So and so clears the air…” headline is a big favourite of government and the news media because it says to a gullible public “Well, that’s explained then. Nothing to see here. Move along, move along.”

Whenever thinking Bajans see that “Clears the air…” headline, the red lights and alarm bells should start going off. “Clearing the air” is usually a smokescreen and once you realise that you find that the air is usually anything but “clear”.

Minister Sealy was responding to opposition charges that the DLP paid GOL some US$200,000 in January to fly half empty airplanes from Brazil to Barbados. Although Sealy denies the amount, he truthfully says that Barbados has guaranteed revenue for GOL Airlines and that it is hoped that this “investment” will pay off in the long run.

Okay, I can see this type of an arrangement being a legitimate strategy to open up new markets, but we are uneasy about the ability of our government and bureaucrats to properly make cost-benefit decisions. As Minister Sealy himself points out, the BLP government paid Air India US$300,000 to make one disastrous flight to Barbados and also arranged the $10 million dollar debacle involving hiring the Carnival Destiny for Cricket World Cup.

Our government is non-transparent and with the previous disasters we simply don’t trust Minister Sealy or anyone anymore to tell us the truth. Minister Sealy is still hiding the truth because he only denied the alleged amounts but didn’t state the facts.

But really… what can you expect from a government that promised to implement Freedom of Information legislation within 100 days of being elected: three years ago.

Minister Sealy: you and your DLP government lied to us before. Why should we believe you now?

Here is the article from the Nation. You should read it at their website here, but as usual we’ll reprint the entire article because the Nation has a habit of changing history…

Sealy clears air on Gol lure

MINISTER OF TOURISM Richard Sealy yesterday sought to respond to what he calls bits of misinformation that have been going around concerning Gol Airlines.

Likening the situation to the game Chinese Whispers, Sealy said that during the course of the Estimates debate the Barbados Government was accused of paying the Brazilian carrier Gol Airlines US$200 000 in the month of January.

“I refuted that during the course of the debate as being totally false and I stand by that assertion.

“I am forced to come public because it has now gone on to the Upper Chamber, and [on Monday] an outrageous claim was made that we have been paying Gol in the vicinity of $140 000 per flight to come to Barbados”, he said.

Though the minister did not specify which currency was being referred to, he stated: “It is simply not true”.

Sealy said the Government had a revenue guarantee arrangement with Gol Airlines in the same way it had arrangements in place with other airlines, as has been the practice of Government for many years.

“While stating that he could not be lectured by the Barbados Labour Party on this matter, Sealy added that the situation of Air India receiving US$300 000 to fly one flight to Barbados and never coming back again was not occurring, nor the $10 million fiasco involving Carnival Destiny that the current Government still had to pay for every year.

He called Government’s investment in Gol an extremely promising one that, though at a developmental stage, was yielding results.

Sealy said the last flight that arrived on Saturday had 97 passengers and the flight prior to that had 147.

“[In] March, which started a bit slow, we had two good services . . . We had an excellent December and January, [and] February was not too bad – many of those flights actually were full.”

The minister said the relationship was being looked at in terms of the rate of return on the investment (ROI). Stating that the regular ROI was seven, he said the ROI on WestJet was around 13 to one, on JetBlue 23 to one and on Gol 7 to 1.   (LK)


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Freedom Of Information, Politics

23 responses to “How much is Barbados paying GOL Airlines to fly to the island?

  1. Adrian Loveridge

    I just wish the FACTS could be reported. First the Carnival Destiny subsidy was US$15 million not $10 million, plus any arrangement fees and the interest that is still been paid. Its all a matter of public record and I have written on the subject many times.
    Secondly, I FULLY support the GOL flight. It was the very best option in terms of airline, route, aircraft and destination (Sao Paulo). BUT, and its a big but, it is a route that has to be developed. I have been suprised not to see more tour operators, travel writers and trade delegations from Brazil.
    Filling those currently empty seats with people that can influence filling them. I also recall David Neilands of SuperCentre saying that he suprised that air freight could not be placed on the route and when I questioned a Government spokesperson, he said it could.
    Again, as I have said before, our Caribbean neighbours will play a critical
    role in geting this route up and running and expanding the service and I emailed the BTA representative in Sao Paulo trying to get her to arrange a group of tour operators to travel up for the re-DISCOVER the Caribbean Show.
    Months later, as so often is the case, absolutely no response.

  2. Freedom of Speech

    I’m just so glad I no longer pay taxes in Barbados! Everytime richard sealy opens his mouth it’s like “verbal diarrhea”. I went to school with this “dude” and can see he hasn’t change! Still spewing a load of crap! Like was once posted by the above poster, why not spend the money on routes that really matter? North America and Europe! This is just my opinion, but Brazillians live on one of the most exotic continents in the world (south america); why to hell would you leave Brazil to vacation in Barbados. I live in Miami, FL and can tell you that Brazillians flock here on a daily basis in droves with the 7 non-stop flights that arrive here offered by AA, TAM, UA, not to mention the other USA destinations that have non-stop flights out of Brazil; for example, EWR, JFK, ATL, YYZ (Canada).

    I look at it this way. When Caribbean people head out on vacay if they don’t stay home where do they most likely go? North America and England. Why would you think Brazillians would be any different than banjans?

  3. watcher

    I think tourists from anywhere are a plus. Brasil should be able to be developed to justify a once per week flight. One of the things that would be of interest to know are the landing fees at both the arrival and departure airports. Fees and charges are becoming so exepnseive that they often make up 50% of the ticket cost. How much is BGI receiving in landing fees from GOL. That is something to take into account. Barbados is certainly at a disadvantage becasue of the distance it is from all large tourist dpearture points.. A ticket from San Paul Brasil to BGI is about $1000 US and more than that if you want to travel from a city other than San Paulo. It certainly is not cheap to fly from Brasil to BGI. Previously many people travelled from Brazil on Meta airlines to Guyana and then Liat to BGI. To evaluate the net effect of Gol one also has to look at the number of passengers now not taking Meta/Liat. …and I know for a fact that number is not zero.

    Here are some landing fee comparisons between Niagara Falls International Airport and Toronto (yyz), New York JFK, and Newark…..Toronto is about a 60 minute drive from Niagara. There are many flights going from Niagara to competitive tourist markets where passengers can get return tickets for as little as $168 return.

    The bottom line is if you want to make tourism affordable, develop markets around airports that have low landing fees.

    Landing fee comparison
    IAG (NFIA)




    747 -200


    Based on three flights per week at 90 cents MTOW.

  4. Freedom of Speech

    WOW I always heard that YYZ landing fees were over the top, but these are riduculous! No wonder they loose traffic to BUF airport, and DTW airport!. It’s worth the drive to fly out of the USA. A $1000.00usd roundtrip ticket from GUA to BGI (are you kidding me; that is expensive). As a flight attendant with a major airline we have daily specials from Brazil to MIA, EWR, & JFK going for $499.00 round trip including taxes! Now tell me why would a brazillian opt to travel to BGI on vacation instead of the USA to experience culture, do shopping, and to live the American dream for a weeks vacay over going to BGI to do “what they already do all year ’round in Brasil” relax on the beach, enjoy great weather, and food.

    I say take the money that the tourist board is doing to expand on marketing BGI as a destination. I have not seen ONE billboard in Miami, New York, Dallas, or even Toronto advertising Barbados. Guaurantee they are tons of billboards for Cuba, Dominican, Jamaica, Bahamas, and Bermuda. The people over at the tourist board really need to “get their heads out of the sand” and stop relying on “repeat tourist”, “RICH tourst”, and word of mouth advertising. Rich tourist are no more due to the recession, and repeat tourist make up a lot of the “baby boom” therefore, have retired and not looking to spend they savings on BGI but instead they “summer home” in Mexico, California, Arizona, or Florida.

  5. Richard Costa

    People in Barbados should be mindful that those in control are spending YOUR money, not the government’s money. They are taxing those who live on the island at the same rate as the tourists. You deserve a full explanation and and an accounting of the decisions being made. Now that Sealy has denied the rumor, he needs to provide the factual numbers.

  6. bajeabroad

    Politicians are accountable to no one except their employers i.e. the public. But if we are content to be more concerned about the next fete etc, then ofcourse we would be constantly fooled while the politicians do what the hell they like.

    The problem is us not them! They will naturally and always do what they can get away with! Forget conscience

  7. duffy

    Watcher you are a bigger liar than the politicians. It costs much less than US$1000 to fly Sao paulo to BGI. I here listening to your friend Geoffrey Cave calling on governement to cut spending by a billion dollars in other words send home the entire civil service while Cave and the rich whites lounge in their yachts drinking champagne and conspiring to bilk government of our taxes.

  8. Johan Frederick

    duffy, I am not white, but I am so tired of you whenever you have something to say it is always racial. We are all Barbadians, and for sure we have freedom of speech, that’s all we bajans do, talk. Take a look at the African continent and see how our own black politicians treat their own black people, keep them in poverty while they live sumptuously; isn’t it from the same breed we have in the caribbean, so let’s stop the colour thing and start looking for ways to get our country moving forward. Look at all the politicians, all of them are black, they are the ones that make the decisions that rule and run our lives, take our taxes and do what they like with it without giving a thought to how some of us live and eat and pay our bills, ” accountability is the name of the game “, we have none.

  9. "the army of occupation"

    “calling on governement to cut spending by a billion dollars in other words send home the entire civil service”

    Would anyone notice?

    Cave, as does the private sector works; the civil service does not.

    Privatize each and every department and make each entity accountable
    to the taxpayer with full disclosure.

  10. yatinkiteasy

    Tourists from Brazil? Forget it..they not only have beautiful beaches, but great Mountains and rivers, excellent and cheap restaurants. Good service..they have it. What can we offer them that they dont have? NOTHING. Talk about flogging a dead horse.

  11. J. Payne

    I see some small-people buying advertisement space on Facebook. Maybe the BTA could have put an ad on Facebook too. “Come see the island that brought-forth Rihanna!” or “Come experience the birth place of Rihanna ” or something so. People would come, maybe even more Hollywood people.

  12. watcher


    I have made 2 trips Brazil to BGI in the last 3 months. Check out the Gol website from Brasillia to BGI. That one cost me $1250 US$ return and I recently bought one at a travel agenecy in Barbados for $2200 barbados return Where can I get cheapter tickets. Please tell me. Is the Barbados government paying for them as well? If you want to fly Liat and Meta check on the web and you will that routing costs $1200 US return as well. Give me the facts and help me save some money

  13. watcher


    Well it is pretty hard to beat the beaches here on the island so I would say they would be better here but your right about the great prices and great food there. Check out some some hotel and vacations costs in Brasil. Amazing value….and the women in Brasil sure better to look at than what i see here…..

  14. rasta man

    @WATCHER Agree with you on the women.!!!!

  15. unemployed

    Every word you say is gospel truth Duffy

  16. J. Payne

    Speaking of tourism. Did anyone else think Prince Edward’s visit might be an exploratory trip for Prince Williams honeymoon? Did that cross anybody elses mind?

  17. We speak WHAT?! lol..

    Biggest problem as I see it..
    is landing here to discover that very very few Bajans speak Brasilian-Portuguese,
    and even worse, few Bajans speak English!

    What a nightmare for Brasilians visiting the island.

    And in case you think Bajans speak English, you need to ‘get outside’ and start looking in.
    I’ve had comments from UK people who cannot understand 1/10th. of the jabber that comes out of Bajan mouths!

  18. just want to know know

    It doesn’t take white man Cave and his friends on his yacht to drink champagne, you forget The Honourable Minister of Finance was doing that with his friend Leroy Parris, and when he received the 95 Million from the EU. At the least I think Mr. Cave worked for his champagne, who & what the minister of Finance work for.

  19. Kismardin

    Is the GOL only bringing people or is it possible its also helping with cargo from South America? South America is a shipment point for alot of various types of cargo, good and bad.

  20. Kismardin

    Prince William is a nothing a nobody. He is a not a real real Royal, he is a bloody joke, talking like a daft nit wit.

  21. watcher

    i just rechecked the Gol website. You are right you can get a ticket to San Paulo/Brasila for much less that $1000, it is about $475,,,but there is a catch….Do you think any of the tourists coming to BGI plan on going back to Brasil?…that is another $475 if they do, so the return trip is about $1000 US. So have a look again and check off the box at the top that says “return trip” …unless you are planning on leaving and not coming back.

    Gol are flying Boeing 737’s and the flight is about 5 hours from San Paulo. West Jet fly 737’s and the flight from YYZ (Toronto) is about 5 hours as well and with the large landing fees at YYZ you can still get a ticket to BGI for about $550. So why the Government paying any monies at all to GOL. They are getting almost twice the monies per passenger for flying that 737 as other companies get for a similiar distance flight. If there truly are 140 people on that flight GOL making lots of money and we all paying for it.
    Maybe the Minister would like to publish the actual numbers on the plane. My bet would be it averages about 50 to 60 and lots of those people would have previoulsy flown Liata/Meta.

  22. Anonymous

    Probably not kick backs are being offered to the right people

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