Loveridge: Weekly flight Winnipeg Canada direct to Barbados could be successful

Target cold Canadian farmers!

Barbados tourism will benefit from WestJet’s new feeder routes

by Adrian Loveridge – small hotel owner

It is certainly not all doom and gloom in the travel and tourism industry.

Take WestJet, the Canadian low cost carrier as an example. This April it posted record load factors, achieving an average of 86.2 per cent and a revenue passenger miles growth of 8.2 per cent over last year, together with record first quarter profits. The airline handled over 120,000 more passengers in April 2012, hitting a total of 1.48 million for the month.

During the same three months, Air Canada’s losses climbed to CAD$210 million.

WestJet founder, Englishman Clive Beddoe made no secret at the time when the airline was formed in 1996 that it was modeled on the highly successful US SouthWest Airlines, adopting the single aircraft type with different variations.

However, the current President and chief executive, Gregg Saretsky, has moved away from this business plan to place a firm order for 20, and options on another 25 of the Bombardier made Q400 turbo-prop planes. In his words its to ‘connect the dots’.

“It seems inconceivable that we could not fill at least one 119 seater plane, flying Winnipeg to Barbados once a week from November to May.”

WestJet also considered the European made ATR, but ultimately chose the NextGeneration  Q400’s based on their ‘combination of seating, speed and range given the distance the planes will need to fly to reach some of the smaller communities to be served’. And its easy to see the attraction of this particular Dash 8 version. The fastest, 414 mph (360 knots), a range of 1,567 miles and a passenger capacity of up to 78 seats. Small wonder then its been the best seller, with 428 orders up until 1st May 2012. The regional services will be phased in, as the airline takes delivery over the next six years.

While the new destinations have yet to be disclosed, it could certainly help Barbados open up and expand our Canadian market share.

During the time Sean Durfy was CEO, I wrote to him, asking if he would consider operating a direct Winnipeg/Barbados service. All three types of the B737 they operate can easily do it nonstop, a great circle distance of 3,304 miles or less than 7 hours flying time.

He was gracious enough to respond, albeit not positively, but perhaps then the timing was not right.

While researching Winnipeg winter photos BFP learned that the locals call their city “Winter Pig”. ‘Nuff said!

Why Winnipeg?

Well, currently Calgary (3,997) and Edmonton (4,037 miles) are out of the operating range of the fleet they have.

With a metropolitan population of about 770,000 people, Winnipeg is the next best option. If Brandon, as indicated, Manitoba’s second city is serviced by the new turboprops, this will add another 53,000 passenger potential.

But its a lot more than about just the numbers. It is the demographics…

Long winters, a predominance of farming communties, unable to work the land for extended periods of the year.  Add the neighbouring Province of Saskatchewan, and the wealth created from potash, the world’s second largest producer and it makes even more sense. I am sure that both Regina and Saskatoon will be included in the deployment of the additions to the fleet.

It also seems inconceivable that we could not fill at least one 119 seater plane, once a week from November to May. Hopefully over the next few months, our tourism policymakers will be carefully tracking any announced new routes and destinations with the connecting opportunities they may present from emerging markets.

12 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

12 responses to “Loveridge: Weekly flight Winnipeg Canada direct to Barbados could be successful

  1. I travelled to barbados west jet for the first time . I ended up in two emergencies , they treated me like royalty . your agent in toronto was amazing greg I want to commend him on the service . all the air can pasangers were amazed , you are going to need a lot more planes.
    I have aeroplan , and I will fly west jet at a good deal .
    my sincere thanks for the good care
    clare mccaw

  2. Brian Parravicino.

    Well done sir,the sad thing is that all of your research and logical input will not be heeded because you are not “ethnic enough”. Please do not give up trying. Yuh mekkin’ nuff sense to me.

  3. Adrian Loveridge

    Brian, Thank you. It means a lot to me.

    Clare, Yes my experience with WestJet is just as positiive. Completely different level of service. ‘Lets get this Boeing going’.

  4. Anonymous

    It would be a good thing to get more flights from anywhere!!!!!

    Should we be concerned that anyone planning to come to Barbados frm Brasil on Gol after August 4 , can not book a flight becasue Gol has listed the flights as all unavailable. Is business that good that they are sold out or that bad that they are leaving? In any event, if tourists we were expecting, see flights as “unavailable” they will be going somewhere else so efforts being put forth to encouirage more tourists to come do not make a lot of sense if they can’t get here.

  5. Adrian Loveridge

    Anonymous,

    Very good point. After checking GOL website I have sent a email to Gisele in the BTA Brazil office to ask if there is a reason.
    Sadly, communication between the BTA and the industry currently seems very poor. We only learnt about the reduction in Dallas flights from one of our guests after the BTA had made the decision to reduce from three to one per week.

  6. Adrian Loveridge

    Just has an almost instant response from Gisele stating that GOL are aware of the problem and trying to fix it.

  7. Watcher

    Hopefully it is a quick fix. I checked with 2 travel agents, one that is located off of the island which deals exclusively in Brasil travel and another that is on the island and they both report no flights being aviailable. Gol on line chat also say there are no flights. If it is a technical glitch then somebody should be telling the potential tourists that is what the issue is. Right now the story they are getting is “no flights are available period” and they are taking that to mean book a holiday somewhere else.

  8. Watcher

    @adrian
    I wonder if anyone has ever spoken to Spirit Airlines about coming to Barbados. If you check their webiste you will see they go to many of the warm destinations. They fly out of smaller airports which have very low landing fees but are located close to larger cities. For example they fly from Niagara Falls New York which is very close to the metro Toronto market. Landing fees at Canadian major airports are very large. If a number of the smaller hotels came together there is almost no doubt they could put together an attractive package with someone like Spirit for a flight and hotel package.

  9. Adrian Loveridge

    Watcher,

    Its a very good question. I have a lot of respect for the BTA’s airline consultant, Neville Boxall, and I am sure they would have thought of it.
    Spirit’s fleet of 35 aircraft (26xA319, 7xA320 and 2xA321) all have the capability of reaching Barbados and as you say landing/etc., fees are much lower from airports like Hollywood/Ft. Lauderdale. I can only quess that it may be something to do with American Airlines protecting its gateways.
    I hope the policymakers are working on it.

  10. Belva Polson

    We have travel to Barbados every year, for the past 5 years. and have chosen our airlines by the flight that does not require an expensive and time consuming overnight stay in toronto, but given that and with Aeroplan miles, I choose Westjet, everytime I can. The staff are to be commended always and we have never travelled late without a very legitimate reason. I would recommend your airline everytime.
    From my town I know people are always looking for new destinations, and a nonstop over nightflight is the top consideration (to warm destinations). Good luck in initiation this long waited for arrangement

  11. 199

    @adrian

    had a colleague fly in on Gol on Satruday. The flight was about 1/3 full. The website still shows that flights from Gol are not available past mid August. BTA say Gol are aware of the problem and are trying to fix it. I wonder if the problem is one of lack of passengers. People would now be booking for August and September vacations and it cant be done with Gol.
    Looks like ithe Brazilian initative is coming to an end.

  12. Adrian Loveridge

    199,

    I have not heard any further from Gisele in Brazil, but if you are right it would be a great shame. I am afraid that I think WE do not do enough. Already lost Atlanta (twice), the world’s busiest airport yet it remains a gateway on the BTA website. Dallas down to one flight a week. I said many, many times that Sao Paulo has to be looked at in a holistic way (tourism, trade, freight, sporting and cultural groups etc).
    Take away the numbers generated by REDjet in the first 75 days of this year and there has been no real growth for the first (and most financially) critical quarter of 2012.