American Eagle pullout from Puerto Rico hits Barbados hard

The costs of the American Eagle pull-out

by Adrian Loveridge - Small hotel owner

I WAS SURPRISED to read in The Nation last week that American Eagle will suspend its service to Puerto Rico from April 15. Especially as according to the American Airlines website, a twice-daily service five days a week and once daily on the other two days of the week will continue from St Lucia to San Juan. Grenada also retains a thrice-weekly direct flight.

St Lucia’s minister of tourism was recently quoted in the media as saying that his government was negotiating with American Eagle to resurrect the St Lucia to Barbados route, so this may represent some sort of alternative link to Puerto Rico depending on flight schedules.

Otherwise it will involve a minimum travel time of four hours with a change of aircraft in either Dominica or St Lucia and Antigua with LIAT.

The loss of at least 280 airline seats per week must be a concern to our tourism planners as San Juan was frequently used as a hub to connect passengers from other United States cities…

The rest of Adrian’s article can be read at The Nation, or if that paper changes history as they have in the past our readers can continue here>>>

Whether LIAT has the capacity, let alone available aircraft, or if in fact there is sufficient current demand to operate a direct service is at this stage presumably an unknown. And that assumes they have the traffic rights for non-stop flights.

The other possibility is that if and when REDJet is given all the necessary licences to fly, it could offer an alternative with a travel time of about 75 minutes.

San Juan is also the largest cruise hub in the region and whether the restricted weight and size limit of baggage imposed by LIAT will in the interim deter potential passengers joining ships is another consideration.

St Lucia’s decision to declare Caribbean Airlines (CAL) its national carrier broadens that country’s scope to maintain and expand airlift and would not prohibit that carrier from operating a jet service to San Juan from Hewanorra, if an air services agreement is in place.

CAL’s acquisition of Air Jamaica also gives St Lucia 14 flights a week from North America.

Senator Allen Chastanet recently revealed that St Lucia’s inter-regional traffic is down over 60,000 passengers from 2005, with a loss of some US$39 million in revenue.


Clearly, they are putting into place steps to redress that situation and recognize the critical contribution this market makes, particularly in the softer summer months.

I wonder too if policymakers have fully taken into account the impact and consequences of the new SVG Argyle International Airport scheduled to open in less than a year.

Despite the St Vincent Government shareholding in LIAT, they will need a variety of jet scheduled services to even hope to recoup the massive investment estimated at around US$220 million.

Annual passenger capacity is put at 1.4 million with the capability of handling a B747 and B767. Will they follow St Lucia and grant the same status to Caribbean Airlines, and how will this impact on the economics of our airport?

When asked if other Caribbean neighbours have signalled interest in having CAL as their national carrier, Trinidadian Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar replied, “I would prefer not to disclose which countries may.”


Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

20 responses to “American Eagle pullout from Puerto Rico hits Barbados hard

  1. J. Payne

    How about an alternative out of the southern United States? Perhaps say Atlanta?, Is one of the world’s busiest airports. I know I actually avoid Puerto Rico because I find they like to keep all my stuff from my luggage and I’m sick and tired of getting into commess with their agents… I try to go through New York City (or less often) Miami. I’d perhaps give ATL a try.

  2. J. Payne

    I question if the traffic coming through P.R. is enough to sustain the route?

    P.S. About ATL’s airport.–Jackson_Atlanta_International_Airport

  3. God dont sleep

    Cosign J.Payne I question if Adrian and BFP eyes were closed last week when an agreement was signed to bring thousands of Scandanavian tourists here this year ,not a word from them, Ian Bore or tourism guru Muscle Mary.

  4. Adrian Loveridge

    J. Payne,

    We HAD a flight out of of Atlanta with Delta but were not seemingly able to fill ONE B737 per week out of the world’s busiest airport.
    St. Lucia, Antigua and others do not have this problem.

    God don’t sleep,
    ‘thousands of Scandinavian tourists here this year’

    I would hardly call ‘thousands’, six rotations of a 288 seater B767 -300ER starting December 2011 at a subsidy of EURO 300,000.

    IF everyone of the 1,728 seats are full with long stay visitors actually staying at a registered property on Barbados that means a cost per seat of over US$250.

    TUI subsidiary in the UK, First Choice have just announced plans to offer ALL inclusive ONLY from 2012, so if this is applied to the Scandinavia market this will further limit potential beneficiaries.

  5. Safe in the hands of BTA

    “We HAD a flight out of of Atlanta with Delta but were not seemingly able to fill ONE B737 per week out of the world’s busiest airport.
    St. Lucia, Antigua and others do not have this problem”

    Grenada and St Lucia can deliver product and people out of the US but Barbados can’t? Whats happened to your tourism offerings?

    BTA you are fired!

  6. J. Payne

    These routes that BTA chooses also need to be flanked by trade and industry. That’s the only way these routes are going to be self supporting.

    The Brazil route should have a much advertised once a year trade mission. Not just this situation were you hear after the fact on TV8 that everyone just came back from the mission today or yesterday and it was ‘fruitful’. I for one am not a SAGICOR, BS&T or Neal and Massy but that shouldn’t prohibit me from being told that a trade mission will be going, and the government will go with all interested parties. Sometimes its just a matter of I don’t want to go alone, but I may go with a group, and if I exchange cards with someone with the aim of assessing how I can work with them later can be just as fruitful.
    I find it strange. Atlanta has one of the strongest economies in the southern USA, *AND* one of the few in the south that in recent years has been consistently led by many business-minded African-Americans. ( ) How much trade did Barbados government officials try to get on that route I wonder? The government spent a lot of time trying to deepen ties with N. + S. Carolina, both of those state could have been fed through Atlanta?

    It is a shame the BTA doesn’t go after these routes with the vigor of having all-hands-on-deck within Barbados to make the routes viable. Tourism alone can’t sustain a route. All it takes is a crisis and your tourists are gone and the route goes into a tail spin. You need business people on those routes to help bolster the numbers.
    I think the Scandinavian region is a good market to pursue. Studies have shown that many persons become depressed in those countries during their winter months. Their being situated in the high latitudes means they get few daylight hours during the winter. This incessent darkness is what leads many to depression. By allowing persons from those places to have direct access to Barbados could be a real treat. I could see many may look forward to a Barbados vacation. Esp. since Barbados is said to get “3000 hours of sunshine per year”. But besides that, many of those northern Scandinavian countries have some high GDPs! Next time you look at the U.N. Human Development Index take note of the potential disposable income those countries have. (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Denmark, etc.)
    P.S. I remember there was a big deal with business execs. from the country of Georgia forming that stem cell research business in Barbados. Whatever happen with that?

  7. Straight talk

    Re Georgia Stem Cell Operation.
    I think it took a mortal blow when it was discovered some were killing new born babies to harvest their stem cells, and it finally died with Villa Nova.

  8. Beefcake

    The problem with the Delta flight is that it was a code-share with Air Jamaica, and one leg would go through Montego Bay. Passengers prefer direct flights, and Montego Bay didn’t add to the enjoyment of the transit experience.

  9. Lennox

    Argyle International Airport in St.Vincent ready within less than a year???!!! I flew over the site yesterday 10 April and it is still a mass of mud with no work on the extension into the sea in place. If I could download the photos I took readers could see for themselves. Dont hold your breath for that one. See the facts on the ground. Do not be bemused by the talk.

  10. Lennox send the photos

    Send the photos to BFP

    Then we all see them

  11. yatinkiteasy

    I think its a pity that to get to PR, we now have to do a lot more travel and stops.
    PR is great for shopping (as good or better than Miami) restaurants, night life, sightseeing.etc. AA just made it too damn expensive to go there on their American Eagle flights..Its cheaper to travel to JFK or MAI , which are thousands of miles further than PR. AA abused their monopoly on the direct Barbados /San Juan route and killed it!

  12. Beefcake

    Speaking about hitting Barbados hard, I don’t recall seeing anything in the newspaper, or any commentaries online, about the increase in accommodation VAT going into effect from May 1, 2011. It is almost as if the change will be under the radar and everyone will be scrambling last minute to change their systems again like the December 1, 2010 VAT increase.

  13. Adrian Loveridge


    I did write about the VAT increase in my Tourism MATTERS column published 21st March 2011 – Barbados Business Authority. You can also access it online – GOOGLE ‘Tourism MATTERS poor timing for VAT increase’.

  14. J. Payne

    @Straight talk. Thanks for filling me in. Ok, so it would seem that business links to the country of Georgia are no longer there.

  15. J. Payne

    Hmmm or maybe I’m thinking of the country of Ukraine, (with Villa Nova).

  16. Pingback: Argyle International Airport in St. Vincent within a year? Not going to happen! | Barbados Free Press

  17. Hmph!

    Push coming to shove in Bim?
    What was once an attractive tourism product has-lost/is-losing its shine.
    We can’t afford ourselves, so no wonder tourists can’t afford us either!
    It had to come.

  18. yatinkiteasy

    I agree with Hmph! In all its wisdom the government has raised taxes on liquor to such a high level that we are now the most expensive place in the Caribbean to have a drink while on vacation. Perhaps we should all go to church on Sunday, so that we could at least sip a little wine?

  19. J. Payne

    @yatinkiteasy. This was bound to happen to Barbados’ tourism overall. The government keeps saying they don’t want to lay anybody off . Instead they’ve come up with this policy of just taxing everything more . The point used is at the end of the day the worker is still going home with a buck in their pocket vs. getting nothing at all as unemployed. But, But— high high taxes on everything can accomplish the same thing! As a totally outrageous example If you getting $1000, and tax is raised to 100% what good that makes? There are some islands in the Caribbean with low taxes. Barbados needs to start looking at why they are that way, and how we can go the same.

  20. rasta man

    @JPayne; They can stop wasting money on foolish projects.