Tourism authorities are looking to move swiftly to get additional airlift into Barbados with the departure of Eurowings from the domestic market.
Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) Dr Jens Thraenhart said Barbados and other countries in the region are faced with the reality that the German airline has cancelled all its Caribbean flights.
As Thraenhart broke the news to tourism stakeholders who attended today’s 35th Annual General Meeting of the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) at the Radisson Aquatica Resort, he said Eurowings reassigned the planes that were scheduled to come to the region, to North America which he said is a more profitable route.
“That was communicated to us just last week. So this is obviously short-term. It’s very hard to kind of work with that. But that’s the situation that we are in. We are working on trying to make something happen. I mean obviously, we have directors in our core markets in the UK [United Kingdom] and in Europe, Canada, US [United States] and in the Caribbean.
“We have daily calls with airlines. I have a call actually today with a German airline. We are looking to try to save this lost flight we got from Eurowings. We are working daily, we have two top aviation consultants who are working with us. It is a priority,” Thraenhart said.
It was recently reported that Eurowings Discover would take over four long-haul routes from parent company Lufthansa. It was suggested that Lufthansa was getting a new type of aircraft and pilots are not available for flight operations due to retraining, forcing the airline to cancel some of its own flights, with destinations in the Caribbean affected.
Eurowings made its first non-stop, ten-hour to Barbados in 2019 landing at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) with almost 300 passengers, giving Barbados a greater access to traffic from Europe.
Then Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Kerrie Symmonds, told a gathering of airline and local tourism officials who gathered for the welcoming ceremony, that the decision taken by Lufthansa officials to fly to Bridgetown three times weekly was a show of confidence in the Barbados economy. He said at that time that Barbados was among the first of three destinations chosen by the airline to fly the retrofitted long-haul Eurowings aircraft. The other two others were Mauritius and Namibia.
Stressing the difficulty for Barbados to compete with other destinations for airlift, Thraenhart said the island is caught up in a complex scenario as it relates to how airlines go about selecting which destinations they fly.
“It has something to do with business travel, something to do with trade, cargo, and it also has something to do with this volatile situation that we are in right now where a lot of things are actually out of our control: high fuel prices, labour shortage and capacity shortage.
“In the end, in order to get the airlift, we need to drive consumer demand. In order to drive consumer demand, we need to tell a compelling story that make people want to come here and beaches alone will not do that. We need to change the way we tell the story and sustainability and experiences are a way to change that narrative,” he said.
However, in the face of that news, Government has been proactive in pursuing additional business opportunities. Today, it announced that it had concluded an air services agreement with the government of Qatar in the margins of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) 41st General Assembly. Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins, formalised the agreement while attending the ICAO General Assembly, which took place in Montreal, Canada from September 25 to 28.
Minister Cummins revealed that as part of the efforts to deepen and strengthen Barbados’ relations with Qatar, the two countries also signed a joint Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) in addition to the air services agreement. She noted that the agreements would allow Barbados and Qatar to begin discussions on commercial carriers flying to this island. It was also disclosed that Barbados was in the process of finalising and approving code-sharing arrangements for Qatar Airways, and in the coming months “dedicated engagements” would occur with the Government of Qatar regarding airlift between that country and the region.
Source: Barbados Today