Merger of US Airways and American Airlines provides one-hundred million potential Barbados visitors. Let’s get to it!

“Since the merger of US Airways and American Airlines the combined number of loyalty members now exceeds 100 million.

Just think if we were able to entice only a tiny percentage of those to our shores!”

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

While still a month away, September presents one of the most challenging times of the year from a tourism perspective, especially from our second largest market, the United States. With three flights daily – two from Miami and one from New York – unless the scheduled aircraft type is changed that amounts to a total seat capacity of 16,680 in and out for the entire 30 days.

September 2013 recorded the second lowest US long stay visitor arrivals (6,198) for the last eight years, with only 2012 performing worse. Even if you factor in those travelling who are not counted in the landed passenger statistics, you start to get an idea of the problem.

Clearly this massive over-capacity or under-utilisation is not good, either for the airlines or destination, as there is no profit in an empty seat or vacant room.

Is there anything ‘we’ can do?

For many years I have tried to advocate the opportunities that frequent flyer programmes offer. From 7th September until 14th November American Airlines lower their mileage requirement to 25,000 for a return economy ticket from almost any city they service in Continental North America to Barbados.

Of particular interest due to excellent connection times, are cities like Houston and Chicago where published round trip normal fares to Barbados would be at least US$789 and $673 respectively.

Using miles only the add-on taxes are payable which amount to less than US$60 return.

This presents tremendous marketing potential for us to drive additional visitors as we then only have to compete on a ground level basis and with our incredible range of accommodation offerings, this should not be difficult.

What would ensure the success of this concept is to further reduce the miles required by purchasing say 5,000 and bring the redemption level down to 20,000.

Since the merger of US Airways and American Airlines the combined number of loyalty members now exceeds 100 million. Just think if we were able to entice only a tiny percentage of those to our shores!

With the reintroduction of Delta Airlines direct service from Atlanta commencing 4th December, the current connecting AA flights through Miami represents an interim chance to capture some of the six million people who live within an hour’s drive of Hartsfield/Jackson airport, which in passenger terms is the world’s busiest.

While the connections in one direction are not perfect, given that the fare using miles is around US$60 return, this should not present a deterrent obstacle.

For travel from December, Delta is still showing a minimum economy ticket price of almost US$800 roundtrip on the nonstop Atlanta/Barbados route. With the degree of destination competition, it is clear, at least in my eyes that this level of pricing is not going to drive meaningful additional business to our shores, especially among rack rate paying individual travelers.

So let us hope that flight price adjustments are made, permitting sufficient time for a booking window and allowing people to make travel plans.

20 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

20 responses to “Merger of US Airways and American Airlines provides one-hundred million potential Barbados visitors. Let’s get to it!

  1. K Murphy

    Adrian-

    The utilization of “Miles” is darn near impossible for travel to bim.
    Whenever I have attempted this with my US Air miles, I have found that
    the lowest fare amount in miles seats are mysteriously already taken.
    Basically, to fly to bim on miles is 30000 each way per person, plus the taxes…
    120k miles is a lot for the non corporate traveller to accumulate….
    miles programs are basically used up domestically in the states, where you can magically actually fly on the lowest point totals to some destinations.
    I do applaude your efforts, and truely hope you are successful !
    Peace.
    K Murphy
    Philadelphia

  2. NYCBGI

    FORGET THE MILEAGE BENEFITS AND LOOK AT THE REAL ISSUES. ONE AN INEFFECTIVE BTA AND THE HOTEL RATES MUST BE IN LINE WITH CANCUN, JAMAICA AND OTHER WARM DESTINATIONS THAT RUN OCCUPANCY RATES IN EXCESS OF 80 % THE OVERHEAD COST IS ALMOST THE SAME TO A PROPERTY AT 50 % AND 80% SO GO FIGURE YOUR BOTTOM LINE. DIRECT FLIGHTS FROM ATL IS A BLESSING IF THERE A SEATS FILLED. I BUT THERE IS NO PLANS TO FLOOD ATL WITH ON GROUND REPS STARTING IN NOVEMBER TO PRIME THE PUMP FORGET ABOUT THE TRAVEL AGENCIES BECAUSE THEY DO NOT EXIST AS THEY DID IN THE PAST NO COMMISSIONS SO A BIG BTA FUNCTION UNLESS THEY INVITE DECISIONS MAKERS FOR SMALL MEETINGS ETC. I CAN GO ON TO TRY TO PRY OPEN THE BTAS MIND SET THIS IS JUST A SMALL AND REAL ASSESSMENT. OF THE ISSUE AT HAND, OF HOW TO BRING VISITORS TO BGI.

  3. Adrian Loveridge

    K. Murphy,

    Thank you for your comments. I am really surprised. I use my AA miles (now also US Airways) to the USA at least twice a year and often to other places like Costa Rica (via Miami). I have never used more than 30,000 miles for a round trip economy ticket. In fact looking at the period I mention above virtually every day of the week is just 25,000 return. I shall have another look at PHL and report.

  4. Adrian Loveridge

    K. Murphy,

    Just checked PHL/BGI with either AA or US and every day 8th September until 28th September is currently available at 12,500 miles with the return on some dates 3rd and 8th October also at 12,500. In the case of the return it might necessitate an overnight in MIA, but I usually use the Sofitel and get a rate around US$100 per room/night so adds about $50 per person to the fare. Of course I realise less seats would be available at peak times and at higher mileage requirements, but my column specifically refers to the period 7th September – 14th November.

  5. John

    If the Government of Barbados gets into bed with the airlines and subsidizes a percentage of those miles in the off peak times both the airlines and Barbados will benefit from the increase in backsides.

    Both Barbados and the Airlines have a problem which might be alleviated by working together.

    I understand where you coming from Adrian.

    Fewer backsides mean fewer hotel rooms sold …. the Hotels can benefit and perhaps lowering rates and teaming up with the other two may mean three sets interests are served and there are a lot of satisfied visitors.

    Everybody wins.

  6. John

    It is all about working together and forming alliances to survive the hard times

  7. NYCBGI

    HARD TIMES JOHN ARE GONE THE WORST IS OVER THE ONLY WAY BGI CAN SURVIVE IS FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO HELP THE AILING HOTELS AS THEY DID SANDALS. LOOK AT THEIR OCCUPANCY RATES EVERYWHERE THEY ARE ARE U P BECAUSE OF THEIR MARKETING AND PRESENT IN THE MAJOR MARKETS. THE BTA NOW HAS 3 PEOPLE IN THE NYC OFFICE AND A SMATTERING OF SO CALLED REPS IN THE US AND UK.. THE TRAVEL AGENCY SYSTEM IS NO LONGER DUE TO COMMISSIONS ELIMINATED IN AIR FARES BUT THE CRUISE INDUSTRY IS GOING STRONG. WHY BECAUSE THEY MASS MARKET AND GIVE BENEFITS, EAT ALL YOU WANT AND GREAT FACILITIES. NOT TO TRY TO COMPETE WITH THE CRUISE LINES BUT AT LEAST ALL PROPERTIES SHOULD HAVE A BUFFET BREAKFAST AND THE GOVT. SHOULD SUBSIDIZE IT IN SOME WAY,. NOT LIKE YEARS GO ONE HOTEL HAD A BREAKFAST PLAN WHERE THEY RATIONED 2 PIECES OF BACON OR SAUSAGES AND THE WAIT STAFF WAS LIKE A POLICE PERSON CHECKING HOW MUCH WAS TAKEN FROM THE SKIMPY BREAKFAST TABLE. WHAT A DISASTER BUSINESS WISE AND OF COURSE NO LONGER IN BUSINESS, MANY HOTELIERS ARE STILL IN THE 20TH CENTURY THINKING, TIME TO TRAVEL AND SEE THE OUTSIDE WORLD IS DOING IN THE HOSPITALITY ARENA. BGI HAS BEEN INDEPENDENT SOME YEARS AGO BUT SOME OF THE COLONIAL ENGLISH THINKING IS STILL INGRAINED. DID YOU EVER THINK WHY THE MAJOR CHAINS ARE NOT IN BGI? HILTON IS A GOVERNMENT PROPERTY AND MARRIOTT LEFT YEARS AGO, HOLIDAY INN LIMPS ALONG WHERE IS HYATT CROWN THE UK CHAINS? FUNDAMENTALLY THE PLAY BOOK HAS TO BE UPDATED.ENOUGH SAID . . . . .

  8. TWWIFOS

    There’s actually two daily Jet Blue flights from NY now. The usual one that arrives mid afternoon, as well as a redeye flight which comes in at about 2:00 AM!

  9. NYCBGI

    WOW A RED EYE TO BGI. IS THERE A TOURIST WHO WOULD TRAVEL TO BGI AND GO TO BED. THE REASON IS FOR LOCALS AND TO REPOSITION THE AIRCRAFT FOR A EARLY DEPARTURE. PAN AM USED TO USE THAT SCHEDULE TO BDA TO TAKE THE CEO HOME AND RETURN TO WORK THE NEXT AM, WHAT WISE LOCALS USED TO DO WAS GO SHOPPING IN NYC ONCE IN A WHILE FOR FOOD ECT, THE FARE WAS $99 RT.

  10. Adrian-

    Thanks for looking up the flights.
    Ahh, but there’s the rub, relative to getting people from the East Coast of the US to go anywhere on Vacation in September and October-
    School has started for the Children, and September and October are the two nicest months for all East Coast Beaches.

    That, and Many in the US are not afforded the amount of vacation time
    that other more enlightened countries citizens receive…sigh.
    Some day we will make it back to your lovely island…

    Peace.

    K Murphy
    Philadelphia

  11. BadBob

    Adrian,
    Four of us are coming down in September via USAir/AA. The deal with air miles was too good to miss. The down side-MIAMI. Hate it!
    Many of us are hoping that Delta will fly from ATL to BIM. Got plenty of air miles for that, too.

  12. Adrian Loveridge

    BadBob, GREAT! I know what you mean about Miami, but when we had the direct service, DFW was almost as bad. Direct nonstop from Atlanta starts 4 December, Thursdays and Saturdays. Working (in the background) on reduced miles on that route too.
    May I ask which city you start your journey?

  13. BadBob

    We live in Athens, GA. 90 miles from the ATL airport. A direct flight, as a few years ago is, I think, the dream of many of us in the ATL area.
    There is the old story that if you died anywhere in the South, you would pass thru the Atlanta airport on your way to Heaven or Hell.
    We always appreciate your posts in here Adrian

  14. Anonymous

    Why is it that both Jet Blue and AA offer very low rates to Miami or Ft Lauderdale, JFK, and rates from Barbados are generally 50% or higher (not including Govt Taxes)

  15. sorry,,,Rates from POS trinidad

  16. Adrian Loveridge

    BadBob, thank you.
    Last time we had the direct Atlanta flight, I spent a week driving around the Greater Atlanta area (700 plus miles) and thought the demographics were perfect. 6 million people live within an hours drive of Hartsfield and you probably know the amazing connections through ATL better than I do. Thats why I was surprised last time we lost it, especially when you think our neighbour, St. Lucia sustains up to 7 flights a week. The Barbados Tourism Authority is going through major changes and I believe there will be new thinking in the US market.

  17. NYCBGI

    Adrian WHETHER THE BTA GOES THROUGH A REVITALIZATION OR NOT, THE ATL HAS ALWAYS BEEN A PROFITABLE TOURISM MARKET BEHIND THE NY AREA. THE ISSUE IS THAT SINCE THE DEMISE OF THE TRAVEL AGENCY SYSTEM THERE NOW HAS TO BE A MARKETING EFFORT TO PRIME THE PUMP. KNOWING HOW BY THE BTA IS, IT IS AN ON GOING ISSUE TO CHANGE. LOOK AT SANDALS OR THE CRUISE LINES THEY BOTH USE PENETRATION MARKETING HOWEVER THEY CONTROL THE INVENTORY WHICH BTA HOTELIERS CANNOT DO UNLESS THERE IS SAME THINKING, HOW TO SURVIVE? ST. LUCIA PLAYBOOK HAS IMPROVED OVER THE YEARS RESULTING IN PROFITS FOR ALL, GOVERNMENT, THE PEOPLE AND THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY, FREQUENT FLYER MILES WILL NOT DO IT,JUST HELP 1%

  18. Greg Miscavish

    Air fares are not the main problem. In my opinion The Price of accommodations are extremely too high. We would love to come to the Barbados, but cannot afford the prices of renting a furnished apartments. The people that rent are probably lining their own pockets, and greed comes first, right ? We have spent the last 5 winters in Mexico. The cost of a 2 bedroom furnished apartment for 4 months was 26000.00 Mx Pesos or $2000.00 Canadian. If there are apartments at very reasonable prices, please let me know. Perhaps I’ve been looking in all of the wrong places.

  19. Anonymous

    Greg, I think you might find anything on Barbados expensive compared with
    the CAD$16.66 per night you pay for your 2 bed furnished apartment in Mexico.
    Can you help me find a similar deal in downtown Toronto, preferably in a nice location with a lake view.