Cabinet minister Donville Inniss says the loss of direct air links with Latin America has not negatively impacted Barbados’ international business sector.
Back in August, Avianca Airlines announced a temporary suspension flights requiring passage over Venezuelan airspace, including its Bogotá to Bridgetown service. Last year, Brazil’s largest airline, GOL, also suspended its weekly flights to the island.
However, Inniss, who is also the minister of industry, commerce and small business development, said Barbados had developed an “excellent” business relationship with countries in Latin America that supersedes any direct air links with the region.
“While direct air links make it convenient for individuals to travel between each other’s country, it is not, as far as I am concerned, prohibiting the development of business,” he said.
“One must appreciate that a lot of the business done between service providers are done electronically [and] they meet at international conference around the world . . . . So while it would be a plus to have direct air links, the absence of direct air links, as far as I am concerned, is not prohibiting the development of international business between Barbados and Latin America,” he assured.
His comments come in the wake of the recent report by the Executive Director of Barbados International Business Association Henderson Holmes that the international business sector lost over $200 million since 2007, down from over $350 million in 2007 to approximately $100 million.
Immediately after the news was announced last August of the Avianca suspension of flights, Minister of Tourism and International Transport Richard Sealy had also hailed the partnership with the Colombia-based airline as one that had served to provide a platform for several new opportunities in the emerging Spanish-speaking segment of the market.
“We are therefore working closely with Avianca to come up with viable solutions,” Sealy said at the time while expressing confidence that a positive resolution would be found.