Business

Caribbean Airlines reopens direct flights to Barbados

BY KARENA BENNETT
Business reporter
benettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Caribbean Airlines has reintroduced its non-stop service between Kingston, Jamaica and Bridgetown, Barbados closing roughly a 15-year hiatus for direct travel between the two destinations.

The inaugural flight, which took place on Monday, April 15, offers an additional 300 seats to Jamaicans and Barbadians looking to do business or travelling for leisure between countries, every Monday and Friday.

Caribbean Airlines' non-stop service comes in response to demands from both destinations' business communities. The service is also aimed at reducing travel time for Barbadians looking to study at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Jamaica; and Jamaicans looking to further their law studies at UWI Cave Hill, Barbados.

“We are exceptionally grateful for the partnership that we have been able to forge with Caribbean Airlines. I believe that connectivity is important if we are going to get to the point where we ensure that there is commercial recovery to the economic challenges that we face in Barbados and by extension the region,” Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Barbados Kerry Simmons said at the inaugural press conference held at the Grantley Adams Airport moments after the flight landed on Monday.

Simmons noted that while there was a time when the Caribbean saw fortunes intrinsically mixed to Great Britain and Europe, the development of Brexit and the right-wing nationalist party now threatens the economies' trade with the Caribbean.

“And certainly in the age of Donald Trump, the United States looks inward,” he said, adding the time has come for the region to focus its attention on things it has direct control over.

The two-and-half-hour flight between Bridgetown, Barbados and Kingston Jamaica is expected to trigger improvements in economic growth numbers for Barbados from its cultural events, including carnival. Jamaica's Trade Board is also optimistic about arrivals from Barbados with the upcoming Reggae Sumfest.

Barbados, which promotes itself as the haven for relaxation and a mecca for an active lifestyle and cultural pursuit, has already seen quite a few investment and jobs created from Jamaica business gurus, including the Gordon 'Butch' Stewart led Sandals Barbados.

Jamaica, on the other hand, has seen investment benefit from Sagicor Life which was established in Barbados in 1840.

Currently, there are discussions around the build-out of the Beaches Resort in Barbados.

“In the context of the single market and economy, Barbados is one of the major domiciles and we are certainly one of the major investment economies in the eastern Caribbean. Jamaica, unquestionably is one of the largest economies in the Caribbean and another major hub for economic activities.

“It is very important that we find a way of linking our business people regardless of whatever level or sector they may be in,” Simmons told the Jamaica Observer.

During 2018, the Grantley Adams Airport welcomed 681,197 visitors which was 17,868 or 2.7 per cent more than the country received in 2017. From that number, the country saw a 4.4 per cent increase in Caribbean tourists. As for Jamaicans, Barbados saw 9,000 arrivals, up 2.2 per cent over 2017.

“This demonstrates the market's potential for growth and with a strong marketing programme and Barbados' well-packed annual calendar of events, we have high hopes for significant business from the island,” Chief Executive Officer of Barbados Tourism Marketing, William “Billy” Griffiths said.


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