Adrian Loveridge Column – Intra Regional Airline Hustle

It is very encouraging to witness a bevy of regional carriers that have already announced or plan to operate or extend flights to and from Barbados including Inter-Caribbean Airlines, Air Antilles, Caribbean Airlines and One Caribbean among others.

Sadly though, not all of them have seemingly promoted the routes, times and fares in sufficient time to ensure there is a reasonable possibility that flights will operate to economic capacity.

Another concern is that several Caribbean leaders have called for a reduction in the deterrent add-on taxes, that Government’s actually imposed previously, but the carriers are still waiting to know what will replace them and at what chargeable levels. This could, of course, dramatically determine the final fare, drive demand and give the operating carriers some hope of reaching viability on these services.

A quick check for instance, on the websites of Air Antilles, One Caribbean, Inter-Caribbean and Caribbean Airlines, where all four have opted to fly the Barbados /St. Lucia route, indicate that the cost of the lowest priced return flights varied by as much as 80 per cent.

Cursory fare comparisons in August are:

  • One Caribbean – US$369 (including US$145 taxes),
  • Inter-Caribbean – US$320 (including US$172 taxes),
  • Caribbean Airlines – US$276 (taxes included but not specified),
  • Air Antilles – at US$208 (taxes included but not specified).

Time will tell if there really is the capacity to sustain four or more airlines between these two destinations, at least in the short to middle term and whether price will determine their long term sustainability.

Sadly, search engine sites like GOOGLE Flights are not yet functional within this region, so it’s a fairly laborious process comparing each carrier’s price offerings, making effective marketing even more critical to capture market share.

I also hope that all these airlines will partner with travel agents, tour operators and tourism trade representative bodies, to offer hotel/flight inclusive options.

From my limited time working as a largely unpaid consultant at Carib Express, within three months, our Escape program generated over 22 per cent of the entire airlines turnover. While the airline eventually failed, largely through poor management decisions, Escape clearly demonstrated the market for affordable intra-Caribbean breaks.

From this initiative the very first annual event entirely dedicated to growing intra-regional travel was born and for 8 years the re-DISCOVER the Caribbean Show went on to bring millions of dollars of additional year-round business and hotel occupancy to Barbados.

While the Caribbean generally is perceived as a relatively Covid-19 free zone, this opportunity cannot go un-served, especially until a time, when we achieve anything close to the recovery of airlift from other major markets.

Perhaps this is the perfect scenario for implementing the much discussed travel bubble concept, allowing people to travel within the territories which have demonstrated the unequivocal ability to manage and control the pandemic at minimum risk?

Prior to the submission of this column, each named airlines was emailed and asked to comment and correct any of the information that it contained.

10 comments

  • My research on Expedia reports many flights between BGI and SLU for September 2020 from around 230 USD (return).

    LIAT is dead.

    Like

  • @ David

    Have you read the following articles pertaining to LIAT? Seems as though the private sector and a few governments have expressed an interest to invest in LIAT.

    I’ve read where one prospective investor has suggested investing US$25M in the airline for a 60% shareholder, while another indicated a willingness to also invest US$25M in return for 51% shares.

    Will Browne be willing to give majority shareholding in LIAT, which may result in him not ‘calling the shots’ as he did when Barbados was majority shareholder?

    https://news784.com/caribbean/investor-from-africa-shows-interest-in-liat/

    http://www.loopnewsbarbados.com/content/pm-browne-private-sector-entities-ready-invest-liat-3

    https://annsvg.com/index.php/2020/08/09/investors-come-forward-to-invest-millions-in-liat-browne/

    Like

  • Liat gone? Round trip fares BDS/SLU International Caribbean Airways $335 USD all taxes included. However, your bags will be added separately. Approximately another $50 – 100.
    Caribbean Airlines $304 USD round trip. The same baggage policy applies. Those fares are based on a minimum of a 7 day stay and paid in advance. I can pay the same fare and fly to Miami or Forte Lauderdale. Are there any thoughts given to a triweekly Ferry service between some of the Islands. Ferry’s can also carry limited heavy cargo (cars etc).

    I believe the route between BDS/SLU can’t sustain three Airline services. It’s not that lucrative.

    Like

  • @Artax

    Heard him on radio Observer earlier. He has no money. If he want LIAT in the sky soo he will have to make a decision to swallow his foolish pride.

    Like

  • If the route cannot sustain so be it, competition at its best.

    Like

  • I guess de competition is on. We’ll see how the birds land.

    Like

  • @ David

    Browne has to ensure LIAT survives and takes to the sky again at all cost, that he gets the ‘last laugh’…… lest he ‘ends up with egg on his face.’

    Passengers don’t usually pay any fees on the first bag checked in. But, isn’t it customary to pay for additional luggage?
    interCaribbean Airline’s $50 baggage fee is for bags weighing over 50lbs and under 70lbs, while the $100 fee is for 3rd-5th bag, weighing 44 to 50lbs.

    A few years ago, airfares were charged according to, for example, a minimum of 7, 14 or 21 days. Is that policy applicable now-a-days?

    I checked interCaribbean Airways website a few minutes ago and the best return airfare I saw for a trip from BGI to SLU from August 20 to 27 (7 days), inclusive of tax is US$323.52. From August 20 to 31 (11 days), the fare is US$318.52.

    I believe we’re being a bit ‘premature’ to suggest 3 airlines cannot sustain the BGI/SLU route. Competition = improvement in efficiency; more choices for customers; innovation… and that’s good for the region. Recall how LIAT used ‘to pull up its socks’ when other airlines entered the market….. Carib Express, Caribbean Star, BWIA (when it used aircraft similar to those of LIAT) and RedJet?

    There was a time when BWIA, LIAT and Caribbean Star serviced several regional route. In those days the airlines were innovative and introduced a number of ‘specials.’
    I remember LIAT offering tourism industry workers a 40% discount on airfare, traveling during the ‘out season.’
    BWIA had a special fare of $150 to SVG for 4 days. I once traveled to SVG for US$50 on LIAT.
    There was a $650 ‘special’ to SLU, inclusive of airfare (Caribbean Star), accommodation at Glen Castle Resort for 4 days/3 nights, buffet breakfast and taxi from the airport to the hotel and return.

    LIAT with a fleet size of 10, provided 2 BGI/SLU and 2 SLU/BGI flights per day….. and passengers usually encountered delays in service. iCA’s fleet size is 14, while One Caribbean has 3 aircraft. Competition should see more scheduled flights on the BGI/SLU route.

    Like

  • @Artax

    The business plan cannot assume pre covid load factors. This is the unknown variable one would say. The bubble is useful however.

    >

    Like

  • Adrian Loveridge

    Someone is clearly listening or reading – interCaribbean are now offering a 10 per cent discount when booking and entering code: interCaribbean for flights to/from Barbados.

    Like

  • @ David

    Obviously, One Caribbean, interCaribbean Airways, SVG Air, et al, would have been monitoring the situation with LIAT as well as the impact of COVID-19. These airlines were ‘invited at short notice’ to service routes left by LIAT after it was finally grounded by its shareholder governments.

    LIAT’s demise and COVID are positive and negative ‘game changers’ respectively.

    One aspect of strategic management is formulating and implementing strategies that enables an organisation to adjust to any changes in the business environment. Obviously, an efficient management would routinely reevaluate the company’s business plan, because changes in the business environment would result in corresponding changes in how the company achieves its goals and objectives.

    So, I don’t believe regional airlines would have increased their services without analysing and strategizing…. or, in other words, ‘come in with their eyes closed.’

    Like

Join in the discussion, you never know how expressing your view may make a difference.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s