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Copa Airlines returns after two-year break during the pandemic

by Anesta Henry
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The Copa Airlines flight from Panama to Barbados has returned with a bigger aircraft and a 79 per cent load factor.

This afternoon, the flight piloted by two Barbadians, Captain Chetwyn Clarke and Captain Marc Holford, arrived at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) Inc, after a two-year break in service due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a welcome ceremony at GAIA, Director of the Caribbean and Latin America at the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI), Corey Garrett said Barbados was pleased with the return of the airline, since Latin America is one of Barbados’ closest continental neighbours, providing the opportunity to grow the tourism marketing portfolio for Barbados, particularly in that market.

“We understand what the focus is. We understand the market and we understand the airline that we are working with. We are happy today to be reporting a 79 per cent load factor coming out of Panama City and we do look forward as we work with the Copa family to maintain that average, year in and year out. What is also notable today is that we have landed a bigger plane than we landed in 2018. And that also now provides further opportunities for Destination Barbados and of course our neighbour Panama, to work from a more commercial or investment standpoint,” he said.

Garrett said a bigger plane also opens the opportunity for increased exportation between Barbados and Panama, creating many additional commercial linkages with work ongoing to grow the leisure tourism business sector.

The director indicated that 15 media personnel arrived on the flight with the intention of spending three days learning and exploring Barbados. He said another group of Latin America journalists will also come to the island soon to promote Crop Over 2022.

BTMI’s Chief Executive Officer, Jens Thraenhart also welcomed the return of the flight. He said as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to show signs that it may be entering an end phase, the objective is to promote Barbados differently, to share the country’s stories and connect people to local experiences, while promoting small businesses in the process.

“It’s the small little experiences that go beyond the beach and make people stay longer than just for a couple days,” Thraenhart said. anestahenry@barbadostoday.bb

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