Cheaper air travel and improved cargo service are among the plans for Barbados as InterCaribbean Airways seeks to expand air links between Bridgetown and other regional destinations.
In addition, Barbados should have a new model for an international aviation link in another two months.
This was highlighted during an InterCaribbean Airways and Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) special product introduction breakfast seminar at the spanking new The Abidah by Accra Barbados hotel on Friday.
During a presentation to industry stakeholders, the airline’s Regional Customer Service Strategist Gilles Bussutil said the vision of the airline, which started operations from Barbados on August 4, was to create reliable linkages between Bridgetown and other destinations in the region, while helping to improve industry standards.
“We wanted to make sure this is an exchange between you and the Caribbean, whether it be connecting Caribbean families where we safely bring them together on a daily basis or connecting Caribbean businesses together with finally having an airline that provides on-time travel,” said Bussutil.
He said one area that was of particular interest was the airline’s “very simple fare” structure.
“Fares that actually respond to the market desires. People do want fares that are inclusive of baggage and they want a fare that is inclusive of beverages and something to [eat] onboard the aircraft. We have included those in our fares, and also allow for flexibility for leisure and business travel so it fits the needs of our customers,” said Bussutil.
Pointing to a growing network of regional destinations for the 29-year-old airline, he said Barbados will now be at an advantage as they continue to establish direct flights to other Caribbean destinations from Bridgetown and provide in-transit services.
InterCaribbean Airways started with two daily flights from Bridgetown to Castries, St Lucia; one daily flight to Roseau, Dominica; and ten weekly flights to St George’s, Grenada.
Officials are hoping to introduce flights from Barbados to St Vincent and the Grenadines by October 1 and to other destinations at a later date as approvals are received.
“We really want to make sure that Barbados becomes the travel hub to the destinations of the customers all around the world, whether they come to Barbados or are going outside of Barbados. This is something we are working with the Ministry of Tourism and other airline partners to really make Barbados the lead hub of the Caribbean when it comes to air transport,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer of InterCaribbean Airways Trevor Sadler said the airline would soon announce the details of a full cargo service to and from Barbados.
Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins reported that Prime Minister Mia Mottley was still in the process of tweaking government taxes associated with regional travel, though she opted not to give details.
“I am encouraged as I listened to the presentation that you are already looking at the question of fares and pricing and ensuring that you are able to have those add-ons including refreshments onboard the flights,” said Cummins.
“But the issue of taxation is something that has been occupying the attention of Prime Minister Mottley . . . and I am sure that work will continue, especially as we develop that southern logistics and aviation hub,” she said.
Senator Cummins said she was also encouraged by the airline’s move to help get cargo in and out of Barbados more seamlessly, adding that Government would ensure an enabling environment.
“One thing we learned during COVID-19 is that as the supply chain globally was interrupted and we were having difficulties getting some products out of some countries due to lockdown mode, is that there has to be a greater emphasis on intra-regional trade and the ability to move goods across the region seamlessly,” she said.
Pointing out that meetings have already started with aviation stakeholders, she also reiterated that Barbados was working on establishing more international air links, details of which should be ready by November.
“That is one of the things that is going to drive a significant agenda item for the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport in the coming weeks and in the next two months or so,” said Cummins.