Barbados’ crucial tourism sector is receiving a major boost with the immediate introduction of thousands of extra weekly airline seats out of North America.
Vice-president of sales and revenue management for JetBlue, Dennis Corrigan, told a Press briefing this afternoon at Grantley Adams International Airport that his company would be demonstrating its confidence in the Barbados market, by increasing its one daily scheduled flight of 150 passengers, to a second and bigger aircraft that carries 190.
The increase in extra seats for JetBlue’s direct flight between John F. Kennedy in New York and Grantley Adams would mean average daily arrivals of between 300 and 340 passengers, or about 2,380 a week, Corrigan explained. He further revealed that the additional seats would be put on during the peak tourism seasons.
He said Barbados had been a very good market for JetBlue and pledged its commitment to continue serving the island.
“And when we saw that American Airlines was cancelling its New York service, we knew there was going to be a need for service.
“In fact, we saw the news and was quickly on the phone with the Tourism Authority, saying, ‘Okay, here’s what we can do in the short term; here’s our plans in the longer term’,” noted the airline executive.
“Literally, we were fortunate. We had just got delivery of our A321s, starting in October, and we knew . . . Barbados is absolutely going to get one of these; it can do the 190 seats, and they fill up very quickly,” added the JetBlue vice-president.
“And we also decided, particularly during the shoulder season, to upgrade our normal 150 seat aircraft to the 190 seat airplane; and then again add extra frequency during the peak periods; so like the February holidays, April, around Easter time, and obviously for the summer time, which is very, very strong,” stated Corrigan.
He said what was nice about Barbados, was that it was not just a United States tourist destination, but that there was also a large community in New York, with Bajans travelling back there as well.
“It is a very good market for both in-bound and out-bound traffic; and we knew it could use the extra seats, and we are very confident that the extra seats will do well, and they are . . . and that’s why, as Barbados continues to grow, we will continue to keep up with it.”
He also identified Crop Over as a special period during which the airline could serve Barbados in a big way. The JetBlue executive noted, too, that the additional 2,380 seats per week, were only passengers arriving in Barbados, but if the out-bound figure was factored in, the numbers flying on the airline would double.
Corrigan also disclosed that the certification process for “live” television on board the aircraft had started. He pointed out that the first phase of that process had been completed –– certification of the plane –– and the other stage was ongoing. He observed that the prototype aircraft to facilitate the “live” TV was in Orlando, Florida, waiting to begin that process.
“Because we are so known for the TVs, customers were getting $15 credits for them not working,” he stated.