Adrian Loveridge Column – Target Bubble Countries

Just over two months ago (10th August), I questioned the wisdom of granting four airlines either new to Barbados or restoring previous services, permission to operate inter-Caribbean routes, presumably to help soak up any loss created by the failure of LIAT (1974) Ltd.

What was even more surprising is that all four carriers responded positively to the invitation before the reduction in the current crippling airline taxes promised by our leaders many months ago.

With all three (Canada, United States and United Kingdom) of our major markets now considered high risk and a recent poll conducted in the UK at the end of September, indicating that only 11 per cent of adults who participated in the survey were planning to travel internationally in the next six months.

The question comes back to the same one posed before, why are we not at least targeting lower risk areas like the announced Caricom Caribbean Community Travel Bubble arrangement , that was slated to be in effect by 18th September?

With carefully crafted hotel/flight inclusive packages, this would at least give some hope to the beleaguered airlines, several of which are fighting for their mere existence.

The ‘Bubble’ was agreed to at an emergency session meeting of the Caricom heads of Government on11th September at which they acknowledged ‘that the past six months have been a very challenging period globally and regionally, as countries have struggled to cope with the effects of the novel coronavirus’.

Noting ‘that for Caricom, it had been particularly difficult, given the high dependence in most of the economies on the travel and tourism sectors’.

The Government heads originally agreed that travellers from countries within the Bubble will be allowed entry without being subjected to PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) testing prior to arrival and would also not have to undergo quarantine restrictions.

Sadly last week (10th October), the Daily Observer (reported that Antigua’s Minister of Information, Melford Nicholas had advised that this had been revised and ‘it was decided that a negative PCR test will now have to be presented’, creating further doubt and confusion.

Travellers may however be subjected to screening on arrival and on the condition and must confirm they did not transit or travel to a high-risk country, either 14 or 21 days preceding arrival, the duration depending on which advisory you read.

Are we back to the same old stumbling block, the inability to follow-through and implement cross regional policies, in anything approaching a timely manner?

The outcome is that already some of these enticed carriers are starting to cancel scheduled and advertised services, as there is simply not sufficient demand to sustain four additional airlines at this time.

Could that demand, at least partially, be created with innovative marketing strategies and more affordable airfares?

18 thoughts on “Adrian Loveridge Column – Target Bubble Countries

  1. Managing Covid 19 has become a channel for the air travel.

    An important LINK to support concerns about air travel in a COVID 19 environment.
    and another LINK.

    This is the original article to which the link explains.

    Cough modeling research finds low exposure risk to COVID-19 inside airplane
    U.S. Department of Defense findings show the cabin environment quickly removes particles in the air.
    Friday, October 16, 2020

    Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers are taking a closer look at something passengers can’t see onboard an airplane — the air they breathe.

    New findings just released show airborne particles spread less within commercial airplanes than in conventional indoor places — such as homes, offices or businesses. The research led by the U.S. Transportation Command found the cabin environment limits particle movement and quickly removes them from the air.

    Working closely with Boeing, United Airlines, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, USTRANSCOM conducted the testing inside the cabin of a Boeing 767-300 and a Boeing 777-200.

    “Within the scope of the test, the results showed an overall low exposure risk from aerosolized pathogens like COVID-19 on these aircraft,” said Vice Adm. Dee Mewbourne, deputy commander of USTRANSCOM.

  2. For the most part people are going to stay at home until Covid is behind us. Looking at the forward loading of future flights based on seat availability, tourism is not going to get better for now. One also has to keep in mind the strength of the US$ and the effect it has had on the currencies of source markets over the last number of years. For example, the Canadian dollar has declined by about 30% over the last 9 years compared to the US$ which makes US$ fixed currency rate destinations more expensive.
    On the other hand, I am recalling GOL flying in to BGI from Brasil , a country with about 9000 km of beaches. At that time the Brazilian real was about 1.32 to 1 US$. Now it is 5.60. to 1, That is a 430% increase in the value of the Barbados$ since that time compared to the real.. As a result of currency valuations you can get a 5Star hotel in RIO for under $100 US per night , and many 4 star hotels for $50US per night. A flight from Miami to Rio is about $300 US. .

    Competition is everywhere. Covid will go away. Competition will not. Keeping Barbados beautiful and safe will pay dividends,.

  3. 50 percent of the Aircrafts Cabin air is recycled.

    Brits, Is it safe to fly right now?

    Since the FCO changed its travel advice earlier this month, releasing a list of 73 countries exempt from its ban on ‘all but essential travel’ many Brits have started planning their summer getaways.

    However, there is still some uncertainty over whether or not booking a summer trip is wise in the current climate.

    While travel to select locations is allowed there are a number of other factors to consider such as whether or not the host country is accepting tourists or if a quarantine could be imposed on either side of your journey. And then of course there’s the question of how safe boarding a plane actually is.

    Here’s everything we know about the risks attached to flying. Is it safe to fly right now? While there hasn’t been a lot of research specifically around flying, the general consensus is that flying – like everything else – poses some risk. While being packed in a relatively confined space with hundreds of others seems ostensibly like a high-risk situation, experts have previously said that viruses do not spread as easily on flights, due to the way air is circulated.

    Chief engineer at Airbus, Jean-Brice Dumond, explained to the BBC: ‘Every two to three minutes, mathematically, all the air is renewed.’ ‘That means 20 to 30 times per hour, the air around you is completely renewed.’

    Because air is taken from outside the aircraft and mixed with recycled air which has been passed through HEPA filters, the air is actually cleaner than you might think. This sentiment is echoed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who explain that being in the air poses no specific threat, but being in crowded airports can. According to the CDC website: ‘Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces. ‘Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. ‘However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and you may have to sit near others (within 6 feet), sometimes for hours. This may increase your risk for exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.’

    While most airport and airlines have brought in strict safety measures such as mandatory face masks and enforced social distancing in the airport through floor markers, there are also many precautions individuals can take. Speaking to The Guardian, Qingyan Chen, professor of mechanical engineering, Purdue University advised people to ‘wear a mask from door to door’ and maintain social distancing at all times. ‘Inside an airplane cabin, I would disinfect all the surfaces I may touch with disinfectant wipes. I would stagger eating and drinking with co-passengers to avoid everyone taking down their masks at the same time,’ he continued. ‘While choosing airlines, I would choose an airline that has opted to block middle seats and provide surgical masks to passengers and that gives me some sense of confidence that the airplanes are disinfected thoroughly.’

    Passengers are now able to travel to certain countries & territories without having to self-isolate on their return to England.

  4. Some tourism dependent territories in the southern Caribbean could soon find another environmental disaster on their hands from the potential sinking of a Venezuelan oil tanker off Trinidad in the Gulf of Paria.

    Oil and water (beach tourism) do not mix.

  5. David

    Above article you posted offers a very positive conclusion to not contracting COVID 19 while on an aircraft. The study was a collaboration by United Airlines and Boeing, both of whom have a definite interest to show such conclusions, NOT AN ARMS LENGTH STUDY. This study does not address the transportation of asymptomatic passengers and transporting them to other jurisdictions. Lots of first world country residences operate their air handling systems with HEPA Filters that replicate those of hospital operating rooms, a much higher standard than the systems offered in the commercial passenger aviation world. Aviation passenger aircraft have very efficient air handling systems, however their designs were not made specifically for pathogens but for protection against those found in the aircraft environment, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, fumes, smoke, voc’s etc.

    A study to show passengers are protected from contacting a virus while on an aircraft would have to be far more extensive to conclusive. This study is a good first step, however the conclusions reached are of only limited value.

    • @Wily

      It is not watertight, how can it be?

      It is why other protocols have to be followed to assist with reducing risk.

  6. @ Wily
    100% correct. Industry sponsored research is always almost supportive of the views of the industry.

    This reminds me of research commissioned by the tobacco industry 50/60 years ago that concluded that smoking was beneficial to human health.

  7. Caroni Tours joins call for Government’s swift intervention in FSO Nabarima’s threat

    Directors at Nanan’s Caroni Bird Sanctuary Tours, are advocating for the protection and conservation of the environment—particularly the Caroni Swamp and the Bird Sanctuary—as they call on the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to assess the FSO Nabarima’s threat with haste.

    They also warn that many livelihoods, and the economy of T&T would be threatened as well, if action is not taken soon. They point to past history, which has proven how devastating an oil spill could be to the natural habitat of all marine macro and microorganisms as well as the birds that feed and settle on the sea as well as the effect it takes on water quality and the damage to coastal vegetation

    Their call comes in the wake of several appeals made by various groups including the Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS), led by Gary Aboud, who made the earliest plea to the Government to intervene and assess the state of the vessel, said to be in a poor condition and carrying approximately 1.3 million barrel’s worth of crude oil.

    They say if a spillage happened, it would be even more devastating than that of the 1989 Exxon Valdez’ spill, one of the most environmentally disastrous spills in history to date.

    FFOS urges Government get proactive before disaster strikes

    Meanwhile, FFOS is urging that the Government team tasked with assessing the full extent of the Nabarima’s threat, must conduct a comprehensive assessment.

    “It is critical that our Government’s mission tomorrow be transparent with photo and video evidence to the population of Trinidad and Tobago,” FFOS states in a release issued today.

    “FFOS urges the Institute of Marine Affairs, who will be on this excursion to perform a fingerprint analysis on the oil, so that in the event of a spill, we would know whether the oil came from the FSO Nabarima,” the group says.

    It adds: “We also urge our Minister of Foreign Affairs to consider the placement of someone with expertise in ship maintenance and repair onto this team of experts to ensure that a proper understanding of the vessel’s state is obtained and possible permanent solutions are advised.”

    Over the past two months, the environmental lobby as appealed to the Rowley Administration to move swiftly on the Nabarima situation, warning that a spill could “potentially cause a major environmental genocide in our Gulf of Paria which will destroy our Caribbean tourism product”. 

    It also has repeatedly called for the following:

    ●  The assembly of an independent team of experts to verify and make public the vessel’s status, to propose a method of safely removing the 1.3 million barrels of oil stored within and to advise of permanent repairs which are immediately required.

    ●  A unified Latin America and CARICOM effort to develop and implement a Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan that will address situations like this, which are inevitable due to the increase in oil exploration and extraction in the Region such as Guyana, Barbados and Bahamas.

  8. Heathrow reopens ‘gateway to world’


    TOURISM HOPES have been boosted by the reopening of Heathrow Airport as a gateway to the world with a direct British Airways (BA) service to Barbados.
    The first BA flight from Heathrow after a 15-year hiatus touched down at Grantley Adams International Airport on Saturday, bringing 182 passengers on the 226-seater, four-class Boeing 777-200.
    Among them was a delegation of 19 British travel agents and media led by Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.’s (BTMI) director for the United Kingdom, Cheryl Carter.
    She told the DAILY NATION yesterday: “We were very excited about the opportunity to reopen that gateway because it provides all the seamless connections not just within the UK from Newcastle and Scotland, major cities in Ireland like Dublin and Belfast, but also great seamless connectivity from most of the major cities in Europe and from the African continent with connections from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya.
    “It really opens Barbados to the rest of the world in one airport,” she added.
    Carter said the BTMI was “happy” that even with the downturn in demand, BA had moved ahead, and while the airline had consolidated, it would be having four flights to Barbados between now and month-end.
    Daily double
    “They are evaluating loads every week depending on demand, and once demand returns, we will then move to some days having a daily double, with a flight out of Heathrow and one out of Gatwick.”
    She also disclosed that the BA service out of Gatwick Airport would cease operations at the end of March 2021, and Heathrow would be the BA gateway for Barbados from the UK.
    With the UK listed as “High Risk” in Barbados’ COVID-19 protocols, all travellers from that country must present a valid COVID-19 negative test result taken no more than 72 hours in advance of their arrival. Carter said though there was “some confusion” when these new protocols went into effect, they have managed to clear that up.
    “I won’t say that people are excited about having
    to do a second test, but what we are hearing more and more, especially from our media who are here with us, is that people want to travel to a destination that is safe, and Barbados, with only seven COVID-19 deaths and no community spread, is considered safe.”
    Albert Evans, a journalist on the BA flight, said on arrival: “While in normal circumstances the flight would have felt crowded in light of the pandemic, the fact everyone on the plane had a negative test put my mind at ease. The arrival in Barbados was characteristically warm and the additional bureaucracy caused by COVID was dealt with quickly and efficiently.”
    Last week, chief executive officer of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Senator Rudy Grant, also painted a hopeful picture for Barbados’ tourism based on information gleaned from reports to that organisation.
    “We are seeing increasing numbers and my expectation is that as we get into the winter months, once we are able to continue to secure the level of airlift that is anticipated, we will see hotels being able to have occupancy of 50 per cent or greater,” he said.

    Source: Nation

    • Welcome Stamp assistance

      VISITORS can now get assistance applying for the Barbados Welcome Stamp 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
      A new toll-free hotline, as well as an instant chat feature on, have been launched by the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.
      Effective immediately, all questions on the programme should be directed to:
      • 1-833-448-0734 (United States and Canada)
      • 08000163098 (United Kingdom)
      • 1-833-448-0734 (Caribbean)
      • 246-628-4150 (Barbados)
      • 1-800-750-7007 (Colombia)
      • 8000836751 dialling format 01 800 083 6751 (Mexico) (PR)

    • @Artax Yes read them. We know how this will end. Another shouting match. Further division between the sub region and Barbados etc etc etc. All of our regional projects are falling apart or coming under stress.

  9. Dominica as well has now stated even from the Bubble countries you need to take a rapid covid anti-gen blood test. So they prick your finger and wait 15 minutes and then pray a test with only 92% accuracy tells them you don’t have a Covid cold, otherwise off to isolation you go.
    @Adrian I must say I admire your resolve in attempting to believe that things can and will change in the Eastern Caribbean. But as you just said , 2 weeks after confirming a bubble we see Antigua and Dominica putting in hurdles. I also know a gentleman who travelled by boat to St. Lucia last week to do the every 6 month trip out of barbados for the boat to not be considered Bajan for the tax savings (another thing barbados can look to eliminate) and the St. Lucia authorities required a PCR test. Thus I think the bubble is burst.

  10. @ David BU

    Here is another interesting development in the LIAT restructuring saga.

    Previously, Gaston Browne opposed all attempts to restructure the airline, reduce operating expenses, staff complement and even selling the aircraft financed by the CDB.

    We now have the Administrator Seaforth issuing termination letters to employees who were on temporary lay-off, informing them their positions with LIAT (1974) Ltd. have been made redundant effective October 22, 2020, but, they won’t be receiving severance payments anytime soon. I understand the redundancies, because ‘technically,’ the company LIAT (1974) Ltd. ‘no longer exists’ and has been replaced with LIAT (2020) Ltd.

    However, it seems as though Browne wants the new LIAT to commence flights on November 1, 2020, to coincide with Antigua’s independence celebrations. Also, while all the Barbadian pilots have been terminated, 11 Antiguan pilots have been re-employed.

    Sometime in June 2018, a CDB funded study into the operations of LIAT, outlined the airline’s challenges and opportunities…… and included several recommendations. Those recommendations, previously opposed by Browne, are among the ones being proposed by the Administrator, which he (Browne) is now ’embracing,’

    It is obvious Browne’s ulterior motive was for Antigua to take over the operations of LIAT and retain jobs for Antiguans in the LIAT, using CARICOM and ‘regional unity’ as his ‘sympathy card,’ to encourage other territories to ‘come on board’ as minor investors. This is evidence by his continual resistance to changing LIAT’s operations, making decisions without informing the other heads of share holder governments, hoping they would ‘tow the line’ afterwards and signing a financing agreement for a US$15.8 million loan for injection into LIAT, which was supposed to be used to recapitalize the airline.

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