Thursday, 27 April 2017

Caribbean Airlines Begins Trinidad To St Vincent Flights

Caribbean Airlines has announced the introduction of service to Argyle International Airport, St Vincent, starting April 14, 2017. The flights will operate twice weekly, every Friday and Sunday between Trinidad and Tobago and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Caribbean Airlines is one of the first airlines to offer non-stop flights to the new airport, which also serves as an international gateway to the Grenadine Islands. Customers will also benefit from seamless connections between St Vincent and the Grenadines and Caribbean Airlines’ other international and regional destinations.

Captain Jagmohan Singh, Caribbean Airlines chief executive officer (ag), stated: “We are excited about this launch of our 19th destination. Caribbean Airlines is in the business of connecting people, and the St Vincent service will develop closer links for commerce throughout the region.

Our teams welcome this addition to our network and the opportunity to give our valued customers more regional travel options and seamless international travel connections between the Caribbean and North America.”

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, is seeking to strengthen its relationship with Emirates Holidays, the largest airline tour operator in the Middle East, as it seeks to broaden the Caribbean’s appeal in the Arabian market.

Meetings with the tour operator have been scheduled this week during Arabian Travel Market (ATM) from 24-27 April, to build on the relationship that began last year when the CTO conducted an in-house training programme in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) for 40 Emirates Holidays reservations, sales and operation staff to familiarize them with the Caribbean product.

This after Emirates airlines had announced fights from Dubai to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with a code share agreement with Jet Blue that opened up numerous Caribbean destinations to the United Arab Emirates.

Joining the CTO UK team at this year’s event – which will include meetings with Royal Caribbean International and other tour operators and social media influencers from the UAE, India and Northern Europe, as well as Caribbean destination briefings with key travel agents within the market – are Jamaica’s minister of tourism Ed Bartlett and officials of the Bahamas ministry of tourism.

“Arabian Travel Market presents a great opportunity for the Caribbean to take our product and services to a wider market. There is a great deal of interest in the Caribbean, and our sporting and cricketing legends have really helped to peak interest in the Caribbean throughout the Middle East and Asia,” said Carol Hay, the CTO’s director of marketing for the UK and Europe.

“We are particularly excited about the opportunity to host two destination briefings for the travel agents, as we know that product knowledge and networking is key to expanding our reach in these markets. It’s also important to have a sustained presence at international tourism events; tourism is an international business, and it is import to be in the arena where important decisions and contacts are made.”

Spirit Airlines cancelled its routes to Havana, Cuba, becoming the third airline after ultra-low cost carrier Frontier Airlines and regional airline Silver Airways to drop service to Cuba this spring.

Last year, US airlines were allowed to begin offering scheduled service to Cuba for the first time in more than half a century and in early 2016 more than a dozen US airlines applied for permission to begin flights to Havana.

The US Department of Transportation awarded carriers 12 daily flights to Havana from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, spread across six airlines.

However, in pulling out of the Miami-Havana market, Frontier Airlines noted that overcapacity had forced fares down to extremely low levels, and Spirit Airlines has faced the same issues.

In the meantime, JetBlue and Southwest both seem to be sticking with their routes to Cuba, given that the market does have long term potential, notwithstanding the unexpectedly slow start.

Following ATM, the CTO will host and present roadshows across Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia and Finland from 9-23 May, visiting Belfast, Dublin and Cork in Ireland; Bergen (Norway), Stockholm (Sweden), Helsinki (Finland) and Aarhus (Denmark); and Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland.

The CTO recently returned from hosting six Caribbean roadshows in France, visiting the cities of Rouen, Caen, Rennes, Nantes, Angers and Tours, and was joined by AMResorts, Barceló Hotels Group, the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board & Film Commission, Discover Dominica Authority and the Jamaica Tourist Board. The Bahamas ministry of tourism also supplied brochures and a small presentation.

These partners had the opportunity to network and present their destinations and products to over 100 travel agents and tour operators at the events, which attracted key industry professionals from the French market, all interested in learning more about the Caribbean region.

JetBlue has announced plans to operate service between Port-au-Prince’s Toussaint Louverture International Airport (PAP) and Orlando International Airport (MCO) later this year. JetBlue intends to launch this route, which currently does not have nonstop service, in December pending government approval. Seats are expected to go out for sale in the coming weeks.

Orlando will become JetBlue’s fourth focus city with service to Port-au-Prince. JetBlue currently offers nonstop flights to the Haitian destination from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). JetBlue operates nearly a third of its capacity in the Caribbean and Latin America.

“Service between Orlando and Port-au-Prince will provide a valuable link between Haiti’s capital city and many communities in central Florida that currently lack nonstop flights from their closest major airport,” said John Checketts, vice president network planning, JetBlue. “Now, with flights from four of our focus cities, JetBlue will connect more US cities with Port-au-Prince than any other airline.”

Port-au-Prince is set on a natural harbor on the Gulf of Gonâve, making it one of the country’s premiere destinations. The city’s layout is divided with the commercial areas near the water and the residential areas in the hills. JetBlue was also a large supporter of rebuilding efforts following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, partnering with agencies such as the American Red Cross to help with aiding efforts.

“I am pleased to congratulate JetBlue on this new air route, which it is inaugurating, linking the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, with the city of Orlando,” said Haiti’s minister of tourism Jessy Menos. “This new destination will have the merit of better serving Haitians and Americans wanting to visit both states.

Thus, new opportunities are opening to the tourism sector and operators, to tourists, this, through the diversification of North American destinations. So, we say JetBlue, congratulations.”

Toussaint Louverture International Airport is the busiest in Haiti and recently underwent renovations, which increased the terminal's capacity to about 800,000 passengers per year. The Haitian government spent over $6 million in the restoration of the airport.

JetBlue intends to serve the route with its 100-seat Embraer 190 aircraft.

Delta plans to expand its service between Miami and Havana, Cuba, offering an additional daily nonstop flight between the cities. Pending regulatory approval from the US Department of Transportation, Delta will begin operating this additional frequency by December 15, 2017.

“Delta has established a strong framework for sustainable success in the Cuban market,” said Jose “Pepe” Zapata, Delta’s general manager-Central America and the Caribbean. “The proposed flight would provide additional service and competition for South Florida, which has the largest Cuban-American population in the United States.”

Delta returned to Cuba on December 1, 2016, after a 55-year hiatus with the launch of a nonstop daily flight to Havana from New York’s JFK International Airport, Miami International Airport and the airline’s hometown airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International.

Pending governmental approvals, the additional MIA-HAV flight will be available for booking online.