Virgin Atlantic cutting capacity to Barbados – up to 3,000 seats a month gone

“Massive reduction” in Barbados seats as St. Lucia weekly flights increased from 3 to 5

Virgin Atlantic will make extensive changes to its Caribbean schedules in Fall of 2013: Barbados loses, St. Lucia wins.

The changes are being announced almost a year in advance to allow for travel planning, and reflect where Virgin Atlantic thinks the market is heading. Several of Virgin’s Barbados Boeing 747 flights are being replaced with new Airbus A330-300 aircraft, which while new carry only 50% to 70% of the passenger load of the big Boeing while burning less than half the fuel.

“Can we honestly say that Barbados is a better destination that it has ever been?”

Make no mistake, my friends: this is terrible no matter how the ‘new aircraft’ are spun and promoted. The bottom line is that one of the premier carriers from our premier market is reducing seat availability by up to 36,000 visitors a year.

Why is this happening?

It is easy to blame the worldwide economic downturn for the slowdown in our tourism economy, for tough times are taking their toll. Even those tourists who do visit are not so free and easy to spend as they used to be. Shona’s little brother is working two days less a week and happy to have the work he does.

Times are tough – but there is more to this situation than the economy. Everybody knows that our product has deteriorated. Our hotels are old, our beaches sport rubbish where they never did before. The traffic jams are worse and the development plan that is nothing more than walling off the coasts all contribute to making Bim far less desirable a vacation destination than it has ever been.

Can we honestly say that Barbados is a better destination that it has ever been?

We still have lots to offer and some of attraction is about the cache of Barbados that no other island can equal. But ‘cache’ is one thing: actual delivery of product is another and increasingly Barbados is simply not delivering value for the money.

This is our choice, or rather the result of choices made over the past 20 years: mostly short-sighted choices that have lined the pockets of a select few for which the next few generations will pay the price.

This is reality folks, and it isn’t pretty…

Virgin Atlantic’s Network Scheduling Department is planning to cut capacity to Barbados from Winter 2013/14, while at the same time introducing new aircraft on the route.

Effective October 27th, 2013, the airline plans to replace 4 of the 7 weekly 747 services with their new Airbus A330-300 aircraft.

Current details suggest that the current 10:30am departure from LGW in the Winter will also be adjusted. Some days VS029 will depart at 10:30am, some days 10:55am and some days 1:25pm. Return flights from Barbados will depart some days at 5:45pm, some days at 6:05pm and some days at 7:55pm.

It should also be noted that the double drop service LGW-BGI-ANU returning ANU-BGI-LGW will also be terminated next winter.

St. Lucia, Grenada, Tobago and Antigua will get only A330-300 service from October 27th, 2013 as well. This means, Barbados, Havana and Montego Bay may be the only Caribbean destinations to see Virgin 747 service from LGW next winter.

Currently, Virgin has two configurations of the A330. Either a two class with 255 economy and 59 premium economy for a total of 314 seats OR, 33 Upper Class, 48 premium economy and 185 economy for a total of 266. This is a massive reduction from the current 455 seats on a Boeing 747-400 and Barbados stands to lose between 564 and 756 seats a week if these changes stand.

The biggest changes to the schedule will affect St. Lucia. St. Lucia’s flights will be increased from 3 to 5 flights a week, but only one will terminate in St. Lucia, that is the VS031/VS032. Two days a week, VS089/VS090 will operate London to St. Lucia to Grenada and VS097/VS098 will operate London to St. Lucia to Tobago.

This information is of course subject to change and any changes/updates will be posted here.

… as posted on TripAdvisor


Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

23 responses to “Virgin Atlantic cutting capacity to Barbados – up to 3,000 seats a month gone

  1. Canadian Tourist

    You know, it might be a good idea to have a government agency to liaise with tour operators and airlines in other countries to promote the island. You could even call it something like the “Barbados Tourism Authority”….

  2. gee

    Barbados is my favourite destination. I have travelled there over 40 times in the last 18 years. However bim has taken its tourism for granted and is way overpriced in every aspect.
    This year i travelled to denmark and spain on both occasions all inclusive for less than a flight to barbados that includes both vacations.
    Your hotels are way over priced
    Barbados is my ideal holiday but your minister of tourism needs to wake up and smell the coffee.
    Richard branson has got where he is by being one step ahead.
    Barbados wake up and compete.

  3. Tony Webster

    Another “don’t-hold-your-breath-news-item-you’ll-never-see-on CBC-8”. Thank you, BFP.


    This is great news, over priced yes, greeeeedy yes,Massive fraud yes,Had a meeting to have some one to run against the fools in charge.BLP and the DLP need not make one cent more of land sales and usage of defrauding the tourist any more , Until they both agree to restock the Plantation deeds at the Land Registry and clean up CLICO,When they use tourist dollars to build over size Hotels at well over priced rates that the people have to go home early so to save and to watch very cent as they put the ill gains in offshore accounts. NO more tourist dollars to fuel the bigger Ponzi than Madoff and Standford ,
    When the DLP and BLP fall on their face World wide then the Truth is be seen,Egypt is on its way to Barbados =Cuba , Rather go to CUBA for at least you know how they stand up front .

    Beatrice Henry and Violet Beckles maybe dead but their names will never die. Haunting all the way to the end of both Parties , RIP for the World not coming to Barbados will bring the crooks to their knees, Just wait till St, Vincent airport opens , They will say you can see Barbados on the left side of the plan and leaving might see Barbados on the right side of the plane.
    To take a piss and wash you hands is 27.50 usd lolololo , Jokes and 3.99 us for a bottle of water or a soda.

  5. Perhaps now the penny will drop and you will realize Barbados is an extremely expensive destination and not all your visitors are multi billionaire tycoons or showbiz types.Far more affordable Caribbean options without the rip off factor!

  6. Apparently these A330 aircraft will be refitted before these new schedules are introduced so they will have more ‘Upper Class’ seats than the B747 meaning an even greater cut in the number of lower priced flights Virgin will be offering. I am starting think Barbados views itself as the Dubai of the Caribbean.

  7. Ivan Taylor

    Can you tell me that the powers to be have not seen this coming when the writing was on the wall, Barbados has taken its product too lightly and now that we have hardly any industry, the rum industry is in shambles considering the loss of Sugar, little or no Agriculture and now Tourism, hey are we shocked.
    Its sad to see once such a beautiful island with its rich history being destroyed day after day. What else do we have can we not see that it is falling apart and to even mention the BTA in the same breath of an agency to listen – that is beyond a laugh you cannot even get anyone there to return a simple phone call.
    There needs to a massive shake up of all these agencies and see how effective or ineffective they are starting with the UK market.

  8. yatiniteasy

    If Virgin is cutting capacity by 3000 seats per month…question is..were they filling flights they were operating, or were 3000 seats per month empty?
    If that is the case, there is no real loss because of their switch to smaller planes..they will just be flying more full flights.

  9. BFP

    Hi yatiniteasy,

    The story is clear that it is about the capacity lost, and that this is a reflection of Virgin’s projections for Barbados – which are an indicator of where we’re heading in the next year or two.

    Sad to say that there was a time we all remember well when you had to book early to get a winter seat from the UK to Bim and those 747’s were loaded to the brim every flight.

    Those days were magic, heady and profitable for the entire nation. Unfortunately we blew all that money and never put anything into maintaining our product or preparing for the changes that any fool could see had to come.

  10. St George's Dragon

    This cut in flights is a symptom of a drop in the numbers of tourists coming, it is not a cause. It is likely therefore to have no effect on the tourist industry.
    It is, however, an indicator that we have something wrong and are not competing with other destinations.

  11. St George's Dragon

    And, of course, if the airlines found all the flights full and were turning away bookings, they would be more than happy to put on extra flights.

  12. No one in gov will listen wen told they depended too heavily on tourism, it has run its course, that too applies to the gravy train. But am sure there are those who salted away more than enough so only the ‘small benefitting’ majority will suffer, who cares.

  13. Travel man


  14. Barbados no more

    @ Travel man

    The last thing Barbados needs is a water park..I holiday two/three times a year in Barbados and a water park would be abig incentive not to go….you want a water park full of noise and jostling overweight people, try Florida

    The problem is quite simpy….A lot of Bajans dont want tourists and this reflects in the general ambience on the island…combine that with most beaches either walled off (like Beachlands) with the others overlooked by condos that nobody actually wants or can afford.

    Barbados as been living on its previous image and tourism position…the world is now smaller and easier to get to more welcoming destinations…the world evolves and you need to play catch up. simples

  15. 4

    Barbados is a water park.
    Any water park in Barbados would almost HAVE TO BE located seaside, using salt water, on seaside land costing an unreal million dorz a sq. foot.

    This is not land-locked Ohio.

  16. Son Of Spam

    BFP you sleeping on the job, where is your Kaymar Jordan article? Why? Did the Nation boot her as she was caught with Owen? What can he do at that age anyway?

  17. Harry callihan

    st Lucian are not nasty ,dirty mouth,rip off artist,,
    when barbados wakes up and realizes its prices are way too high for a little not much to see filthy place then things may change…….
    seems to me it is too late.too little too late.
    barbados has turned into a garbage dump unless you don’t look out of your tinted windows as you drive around..
    all dat dub abs nasty behavior and price gouging gets around .
    word of mouth .you all looking at plane arrivals ans such figures .
    but prime minister you should be looking at the disgusting behavior of your citizens and what they do and say to the tourist and the quality of goods and services your island delivers .
    English tourist come there with a back pack and don’t spend money any way .you went back to depending on England and called a Canadian woman a white trash.unreported rapes and theft..
    i glad you going deserve what you getting.hahahah

  18. victor

    I’ll be arriving in Barbados in the next couple of days, for a shorter stay than usual because times are tight for me. I spend about six months a year in Barbados normally but have had to cut my cloth according to my means. These days we all have to tighten our belts.

    Madly, my landlord has increased the price of my stay, greedily demanding more cash for a deteriorating and unimproved property, typical of the mindset of local landlords. Landlords and hoteliers have to bite the bullet that times are tough for the traditional tourist, as times are hard for landlords in Barbados. Bajans who think they can maintain their lifestyle and income from high rents as they did in the past so they can continue to live high on the hog need to realise that visitors are much poorer than they were and adjust their charges accordingly, not increase them! If these price increases continue, tourists will be thinking about Grenada or St Lucia, as I am.

    Barbados is turning into a ghost town of unoccupied hotels and tourist destinations. The only way to deal with this is to reduce prices. It’s better to let your property for less than not to let it at all.

  19. Adrian Loveridge


    ‘We’ really appreciate your business and I hope that you will stay loyal to Barbados. Just for a moment think of it from the other side.
    As someone that makes his living from tourism, we have been forced to absorb a 50 per cent increase in land taxes, 60 per cent increase in water charges, 72 per cent increase in electricity, 16.6 per cent average increase in VAT and all in the last two years. ADD rampant inflation (around 9 per cent per year). At the same time Goverment has applied moral persuasion to maintain full employment despite the pressures on trying to stay in business.

  20. 225

    The only time greedy people shift their mindset is when the toilet has been flushed and all are faced with the imminent prospect of drowning. Only then does clarity interject itself in constipated thinking and some few survive while all the rest become extinct. Elcock is a dweeb and a dork.

  21. Anonymous

    Cheers Ray anytime

  22. Commander Chakotay

    The is fear mongering of the highest degree. We lose because Virgin is flying a smaller aircraft type but they aren’t doing it because we can’t fill the seats. Flying a 2 engined A330 is less expensive than flying a 4 engined 747. I don’t know if anyone checks these things but Virgin made a loss last year and they’re trying to cut expenses. St Lucia wins because now the cheaper aircraft to operate, the A330, can fly there more often. Its a dollars and cents thing Virgin is doing and has nothing to do with the Barbados tourism product. However, a re-examination of said product is called for and probably overdue. Nothing is static and Barbados is not changing with the times.

  23. UKflyboy

    Unfortunatelyt this article is filled with incorrect information.
    First – Virgin is doing the same thing British Airways did a few years ago and is getting rid of their ageing and more fuel consuming 747 fleet and replacing with more cost effective 2 engine aircraft (A330s and 787s).
    The new A330s have 3 times more Upper Class seats thank the 747s traditionally used on the route (although at time this was configures 54J 62W 225Y)- Therefore more suitably matched to the Barbados clientele. The airline is in a win win situation here – Make more revenue (more premium seats and with less economy seats they can sell them at a higher revenue)and less fuel/cabin staff to pay for.

    All Barbados flights are terminator flights and the flight will be daily. St.Lucia increases from 3 to 5 flights however their flights go from all terminator flights to 4 shared flights and 1 terminator.

    So if we look at the numbers:
    BGI-LGW :
    A330 – X 4 P/W : 1064
    B744 – X3 P/W : 1365
    TOTAL: 2429

    A330 – X 4 P/W SHARED : 532
    A330- X1 P/W : 266
    TOTAL: 798

    There is no comparison here – Barbados is still having 3 times as many seats as St Lucia and this is before we even take into consideration the 747s operating the Barbados to Manchester route.

    So- yes Barbados has lost seats, but thats more to do with the airline realigning their fleet and profitability than the popularity of the island. If the island was that unpopular would British Airways be flying to Barbados twice daily in addition to the other UK carriers which operate some seasonally and others year round?

    Please think before you write.