Dallas – Barbados dream collapses

Down to one flight a week from the eighth busiest airport in the world

by Adrian Loveridge - small hotel owner

I was recently castigated in a public forum by a senior member of the Barbados Tourism Authority over a question I posed, concerning the Dallas/Fort Worth/Barbados flight being reduced from three to just one flight per week. The criticism was that I should have sought clarification from the BTA first. In an ideal world, perhaps this argument has merit, but the BTA employs over 130 persons and there is, some may say thankfully, just one of me.

Trying, again, desperately to focus on the message rather than drag individual personalities into the equation, it graphically highlights just how fragmented communication is currently, between the tourism stakeholders and the national marketing agency. We in the private sector have to better articulate that there is a cost and a consequence to receiving delayed policy decisions. Second guessing and speculation cannot be an option.

As soon as conclusions are made, in which case our guests, and I suspect others, are directly effected, to the point where we could literally lose a substantial number of hotel room nights. Surely then it is only logical to disseminate to all that it may involve. We would then, have adequate opportunity to contact our guests and soften the blow, perhaps even offering one additional night’s lodging on a complimentary basis, rather than the negative financial implications it would bring.

What does St. Lucia have that Barbados doesn’t?

“Last year Barbados lost the only non-stop Delta Airlines once weekly service from Atlanta, the world’s busiest airport, despite it still being shown on the national website. Yet, our neighbour, St. Lucia, still manages to attract five flights per week.”

The BTA already has a database and usually distributes a weekly newsletter, so the machinery currently exists. The question also has to be asked. Why are we not able to fill these flights?

Unlike, Atlanta, the decision to operate a non-stop to/from Dallas was taken during the recession. The seating capacity had already been reduced with a change of aircraft from a B757 to the smaller B737. The latest adjustment deprives us of yet another 300 seats per week. By world ranking DFW is the fourth largest in terms of operations and eighth in terms of passenger volume.

In 2011 the airport recorded a staggering 58 million passengers, of which 42 per cent joined locally and 58 per cent were connecting from one of the 191 destinations served by the hub. Last year we lost the only non-stop Delta Airlines once weekly service from Atlanta, the world’s busiest airport, despite it still being shown on the national website. Yet, our neighbour, St. Lucia, still manages to attract five flights per week.

With a US based advertising agency handling the BTA account , I cannot imagine there can be a misunderstanding of the American market. Having travelled to the DFW Metroplex area, the 12 counties within the state of Texas, which includes Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington last September and driving more than 500 plus miles around the metropolis during my week of stay, the demographics appear to exactly match our destination.

Over 6 million people live within an hours drive of the DFW Airport, and its difficult to comprehend why we cannot tempt less than half of one per cent of that number to our shores and that’s even before we take into account the nearly 200 connecting cities.

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8 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

8 responses to “Dallas – Barbados dream collapses

  1. what will they think of next

    Adrian, St. Lucia’s economy is not doing nearly as well as you would have us believe.
    “Commentary: VAT mixed with low-skill jobs and low wages is a stalled economy”
    Published on April 18, 2012

    The economy continues to be weak, demand for goods and service has been slow to recover, and household wealth continues to decline. Continued high unemployment is the new norm, while government spending has been unchecked in a bureaucratic haze.

    After so many wrangles in opposition and on the campaign trail, apparently commonsense economic theory is so alien to the chief policymakers that high unemployment will persist.

    Contrast this with poor economic conditions, a VAT, low skill jobs, low wages and deflated consumer spending to the painting of a rosy picture of proposed robust job growth and the absence of a well thought-out blueprint for growth to better days.
    http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-Commentary%3A-VAT-mixed-with-low-skill-jobs-and-low-wages-is-a-stalled-economy-10567.html

  2. NYC/BGI

    It is clear that the BTO has lost it’s negotiation and awareness skills. Again using the old playbook and not enough background discovery and information leaves the Island wanting for tourist and ultimately revenue/ it also shows clearly that there is no one on the ground in DFW or ATL on a permanent basis. if they do have BTO reps on the ground there is more reason to declare that the BTO is sitting on their hands as usual. We live in a global environment and the BTO has not addressed that to compete for tourism there must be a plan that can address the ever changing situation. and objective, Increase Tourism on a continued basis the bridge to income and a prosperous future. I ask is that the situation NOW!! you already know the answer. .. .

  3. watcher

    American Airlines are revaluating all of their options. A sign of the times during harsh economic conditions and increasing fuel prices. They are trying to”drive” as many people through DFW as they can. My bet is we can look forward to more cut backs from them. Many of the American Eagle flights have time tables now that do not connect with the 10.30 flight out of Miami. They connect only to the 6pm flight unless you want to go thorugh DFW., So the 10.30 flight is going to likely not be available in the distant future.

    On the other hand it is refreshing to see that GOL from Brasil GRU is sold out for its once a week fight for July. Can the island use more touriists in July. You bet it can. BTA should be demanding more capacity right now!!!…..we subsduized this route and now we should be reaping the benefits. One 737 a week won’t make it happen for the local economy. My bet is St. Lucia is watching very closely and are ging to get Gol to fly to them. Action needs to be taken now to open capacity for Barbados.

  4. Anonymous247

    WhatWill…

    Senor Loveridge wasn’t discussing the economy of SinLucia
    he was discussing SinLucia’s ability to attract: to PULL,
    i.e. their marketing efforts, and their image overseas -to which ppl respond.

    Despite having a crap economy, tourisses still WANT TO come to their shores!!
    What are they doing wrong? -and what is Barbados doing right? LOL!

  5. Adrian Loveridge

    Watcher, Spot on.
    GOL/Varig have used a B767 in the past with increased seat capacity. Hopefully the BTA are looking at that option.
    I am sure GOL have been talking with St. Lucia for months.
    AA have already announced they will pull ALL Eagle flights out of San Juan next year.

  6. 164

    So what is new that the DFW route that was supposed to open up the mid-west of the USA have collapsed, I doubt that few who follow the progress of the BTA under David Rice and his new Chairman Elcock would be surprised!
    Under their watch the annual Jazz festival which was a staple on our calendar has collapsed, the CLOBI Cup seems to have collapsed as have follow me to Barbados for Crop Over and I could go on and on!!
    Also, what has become of the sports tourism thrust we were hearing so much about from the Minister, the former chairman and even Rice himself? It is now close to a year they have advertised for a consultant and none has been hired, while the department continues to mark time. Also what about the restructuring that was boasted about by the Minister since 2008?
    This Ministry and organization is a mess and a total joke and it was no surprise to read in the Saturday Sun that Rice’s contract has not yet been renewed. It is a fact that he is NOT liked by staff, does not get along with most of the managers – especially male, and is generally a very poor CEO with poor management skills and leadership ability.
    It is also well known that lots of Cabinet Ministers do not like Rice and want to see him gone.
    The Minister however seems reluctant as Rice has challenged him on more than on occasion and won – with Senator Gilkes leaving the Board and Urban Cumberbatch not being appointed to head the USA – both Minister Sealy’s picks!!

  7. GA Redleg

    I live near Atlanta and visit Barbados at least twice each year [and bring 2-3 people witrh me]. The Delta flight was perfect. After Delta cancelled the flights I made the mistake of taking AA thru Miami. What a F***ing nightmare. Never again. Now I drive to Charlotte and take USAir. That involves a 3.5 hr drive and overnight stay in CLT-but I swore to the Almighty that I would never go through MIA again. There MUST be enough people in the SE USA that would be delighted to visit Barbados [via ATL!] and someone in the BTO needs to get off their hefty backsides and charm Delta back…as well as overall earn their keep doing a days work re tourism.

  8. Pingback: DISASTER! American Airlines Dallas to Barbados flights end August 19, 2012 | Barbados Free Press