One of Barbados’ main airline partners is reporting continued strong bookings out of the United Kingdom, with more people opting to buy tickets last minute.
What is more, Hanna Swift, Country Manager for the Caribbean at Virgin Atlantic, suggested that there was no indication of a dip in bookings since Barbados started to witness a rise in COVID-19 cases over the past several days.
In fact, she said Virgin Atlantic was pressing ahead with its plans to increase flights in the coming months.
Over the past few days Bridgetown has witnessed a surge in COVID-19 cases, with 92 cases being recorded for tests done on Friday, August 27; 50 new cases and one death for tests carried out on Saturday; 37 new cases and one death recorded for Sunday, while 64 positive COVID-19 cases were recorded for tests carried out on Monday.
Asked if there were any concerns regarding the surge, Swift said: “At the moment we are actually planning on increasing our frequency over winter so we have launched a new route – from Barbados to Edinburgh, which will fly twice a week.
“We are also going to be flying five times a week from Barbados to Manchester and 11 times a week from Barbados to the UK, which means that anybody interested in getting to the UK or even further than that there is plenty of opportunity now with us,” she added.
Pointing out that people of all age groups were now taking trips, she said a lot of them were booking closer to the date of travel and they were seeking to spend more given that they have not travelled for several months.
“What we are seeing actually is that people are booking later. They are choosing to travel kind of at the last minute and then they are staying wherever they are going for longer and they are also spending more. They are investing in premium economy tickets or upper class tickets because let’s face it, we have all had a really rough 18 months and for those of us who were locked inside . . . then you are spending more and having that luxury dream holiday,” she explained.
“We are seeing a mix of ages – from young to older people. There are a number of people in the Caribbean who want to get to their family and friends in the UK and beyond so we are seeing a complete mix,” said Swift.
The Virgin executive was speaking with members of the media following a tour of the airline’s spacious 335-seat capacity Airbus A350 aircraft at the Grantley Adams International Airport on Tuesday.
She said the airline continued to take health and safety seriously.
“On board each of our aircraft every passenger receives a wellness kit which has medical grade face mask, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. We also have what is called a EpiFilter, which basically recycles all the air onboard and refreshes it every two to three minutes, along with stripping out about 99.999 per cent of all the nastiness that you would find in air – so all your allergens bacteria. We take safety very, very seriously at Virgin Atlantic. The safety and security of all our passengers and crew are paramount,” Swift explained.
The Airbus A350 aircraft, which increased the airline’s flight capacity by nearly 300 per cent, started flying to Barbados in August.