CAL London bookings increase
By Sasha Harrinanan Thursday, August 23 2012
CARIBBEAN Airlines (CAL) has recorded an estimated 15 percent increase in bookings on its twice-weekly flights to Gatwick, London since the route was launched on June 14. CAL Chairman, Rabindra Moonan, provided Business Day with an update on the State airline’s newest route last Friday.
“London has been very good in July and August. We went from 65 percent on our first flight to an almost 80 percent load factor. I think we’ve exceeded our expectations and bookings are likely to increase as we get more Hajj groups bookings; Muslims making their pilgrimage to Mecca,” Moonan said.
He was speaking during a break in activities at the Civil Aviation Authority’s inaugural Long Service Appreciation Awards dinner at Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain. Moonan reminded that CAL is offering a special “door-to-door type of service to Hajj passengers, which includes help at Gatwick to reach your connecting flight to Mecca.” He said this, combined with the “warmth of the islands” embodied by the airline’s staff, were the main reasons more people were switching to CAL for flights to London, New York and Toronto.
That’s not all Moonan had to smile about while speaking with Business Day last Friday. According to CAL’s Chairman, the costly wet lease arrangement currently in place on its London route would soon come to an end, thus reducing operating costs.
“When we get our own ( B 767-316 ER) aircraft in September, it will ease the cost because wet lease aircraft are a very expensive proposition. We therefore expect to have a turn-around (make a profit) within 12 to 18 months because every new business has start-up costs.”
Asked for an update on talks to establish a route to Central American country of Panama; first proposed last May at the 2012 Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) by Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli, Moonan said feasability study was underway.
“We are conducting feasability studies on Panama, Brazil, South America in general, but final decisions would depend on the outcome of these feasability studies. I don’t have a timetable to give you yet on when a decision will be made on Panama because there are a number of other areas we’re looking at, at the same time,” Moonan explained.