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British Airways: London beckons for 2017

Sasha Harrinanan Thursday, February 16 2017

A recession here in Trinidad and Tobago (TT) may be the reason why British Airways (BA) says it has observed “a trend of more people planning vacations around special events while visiting friends and family,” in the United Kingdom.

Business Day spoke with BA’s Commercial Manager for the Caribbean, Diane Corrie, about how the current economic climate may have impacted ticket sales locally.

While Corrie declined to speak about this specifically, she did highlight the airline’s instalment payment option; Holidays by BA, applicable to customers who are booking flight and hotel, or flight and car hire, for their entire stay via ba.com.

“While in this market, some customers stay with friends and family when they go to London, this (instalments) is a great option for those wishing to visit as tourists or for small businesses.” Corrie explained that the instalment option was established several years ago, “to assist BA customers in planning and paying for their future travel. Passengers may secure their trip to London with a low deposit, pay the balance in as many instalments as they want and pay the full balance five weeks before their travel date.” Originally, customers had to pay their final balance within ten weeks of departure but, as reported in July 2016 by the website “Head for Points”, BA “made a very quiet change to their terms and conditions”, giving customers until five weeks prior to departure to pay off their balance.

“You need to add some accommodation or car hire to your stay but this can be as litt le as two nights. The added benefit of doing this is that it can save you money. You will oft en pay less for a ‘flight and hotel’ or ‘flight and car’ booking than just for the flight. This is because BA sells you a different – cheaper – sort of flight ticket (don’t worry, you sti ll get Avios and ti er points) which is made exclusively available to travel agents. Even if the price is the same or is marginally more expensive, you may feel that it is a price worth paying to give yourself what could be a substantial period of interest-free credit,” Head for Points noted.

Business Day asked Corrie if BA has seen a dip in ticket sales out of TT since energy prices began declining about 18 months ago, and if there was a ‘bump’ during particular periods, such as Christmas.

“We continue to be pleased with how the route is performing. Throughout the year and across the Caribbean, we have our peak and off -peak season travellers with different

motivations, whether it’s a trip for business, leisure, or a family reunion. The summer period is a good example of when we would get a full range of customers across all cabins.” Regarding ticket sales into and out of other Caribbean islands, Corrie said BA “has provided flights to some Caribbean islands for over 70 years (since 1946).

Today, the airline continues to show its commitment to the region providing service to 12 islands from London Gatwick or London Heathrow Airports.” In the January 24 statement, “London Beckons for 2017”, Corrie highlighted a range of activities which she said were sure to appeal to TT customers.

They included the Chelsea Flower Show May 23-27, the “Taste of London” from June 14-18, the IAAF World Championships in August, the West Indies Cricket team playing England in late August to September and NottingHill Carnival in late August.

BA “makes it easy to get to London from Trinidad or Tobago, with five flights a week; daily except Wednesday and Saturday, from Port-of-Spain and twice weekly; Monday and Friday, from Tobago. These flights off er a mix of four and three classes of service to choose from, all with attractive fares,” Corrie stated.



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