With any number of uncertainties there can be very few other businesses like airlines which present a constant indeterminate challenge.
It only seems a twinkle ago since massive controversy hit the media over the sale of the valuable Heathrow slots by the now defunct BWIA for what many felt was an under-valued GB Pounds 5 million to British Airways in 2006.
In 2011 the current Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, Kamela Persad-Bissessar commissioned a forensic management audit which concluded that a fair market value for the slots then ranged from GB Pounds 23 million to GB Pounds 44 million in a report dated 8th May 2012.
Then with a blaze of glory in 2012 it was announced the replacement Caribbean Airlines was going to return to London, but this time flying into Gatwick.
Last week according to AirwaysNews.com, Caribbean Airlines (CA) will return its Boeing 767 fleet to lessor ILFC (International Lease Finance Corporation) during the first quarter of 2016, axing the Gatwick route and these aircraft will join the Air Canada Rouge fleet soon after.
This year, the airline has already returned two Boeing 737-800 aircraft with two more that are set to go soon. This will reduce the fleet to twelve B737s while retaining all five ATR 72 equipment.
Since the re-birth of the carrier, it has been difficult to follow what if any substantial part they play in supplying airlift to Barbados, specifically for inbound tourism and I probably am not alone into thinking ‘we’ as a destination do not have the best of working relationships with them.
Can this be changed or improved on specific routes, perhaps with a Barbados/Fort Lauderdale service or would this further alienate the existing legacy and low cost airlines?
With lower fuel costs and operating costs out of Fort Lauderdale airport, this may offer a more competitive route than a Miami – especially if Caribbean Airways could smart partner with other US based low cost carriers to offer attractive seamless connecting cities.
And, as well as the obvious domestic (Continental North America) possibilities, could we use such a service to grow more arrivals out of Europe?
Norwegian Airlines fly non-stop from Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen to Fort Lauderdale. Imagine if Caribbean Airways code-shared with this aggressive low cost carrier.
Norwegian has already shown a commitment to the Caribbean with new seasonal services from JFK, Baltimore and Boston to Guadeloupe and Martinique starting in December. An arrangement with CA could provide a litmus test vehicle to test the interest in other regional destinations.
As they say ‘a world of possibilities’…
To combat the falling value of the Canadian Dollar we had planned to launch an attractions/activities/car rental version of our re-DISCOVER voucher which would exclusively offer ‘Canucks’ a ten per cent discount on strictly direct bookings. Sadly of over 100 tourism entities contacted only a total of five agreed and making it simply not financially feasible.
We have not yet seen a decline in Canadian visitors this year but if there is any indications travel from Canada to the United States is down substantially. Maybe if this trend continues to affect other destinations our industry might re-visit the possibility of inclusion.