Two months before the Panama-based Copa Airlines kicks off its Barbados service, tourism officials here say they are encouraged by the response they have been getting to the Latin American carrier.
In fact, Director for the Caribbean and Latin America markets with the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) Corey Garrett told those attending the airline’s official launch at the Hilton Barbados Resort here last night that the inaugural flight from Panama City to Bridgetown on July 17 was already sold out.
“We have been preparing a full development of inbound and outbound marketing strategies, which will be implemented as of this week,” Garrett told the gathering of tourism officials, diplomats and other stakeholders.
He also revealed that the carrier, which will be utilizing a 94-seater aircraft for its twice-weekly service on Tuesdays and Fridays, was now aiming for a 70 per cent load factor, up from 50 per cent for the first three months of operation.
“That said, our inaugural flight set for July 17 is sold out,” Garrett told the gathering.
BTMI Chairman Alvin Jemmott also said he had high hopes for the new service, which is expected to attract both romance and business travellers.
“We look forward to capitalizing on increasing both inbound and outbound arrivals between Bridgetown and Panama,” Jemmott said.
Commercial Manager for Copa Airlines Camille Hackett, who is based in Trinidad, will initially have responsibility for Barbados, where a new team is to be put in place in coming months.
She pointed out that since the inauguration of its service to Trinidad some ten years ago, the number of flights has increased from four to 12 per week, adding that the intention was to similarly grow the Barbados market.
“With this new route we will become the only airline that can connect this Caribbean island with the rest of the American continent and the two weekly flights will strengthen our leadership in the Caribbean, operating in 78 destinations when we add Barbados,” she said.
“The air connectivity between Panama and Barbados will bring important opportunities for the development and consolidation of both touristic and commercial activities . . . . It will allow for our tourists from the continent, especially South America, to visit the island,” she said.