Antigua and Barbuda’s Tourism Minister, The Hon. Charles Fernandez led a team of tourism executives on an intense week of meetings and negotiations with USA-based airlines to make the case for increased airlift to the destination. The delegation included the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority’s CEO Colin C. James, US Director of Tourism Dean Fenton and US Sales Manager, Norrell Joseph.
“This has been one of the most successful months in airlift for us this year! The overall feedback from our airline partners, this year, is that they have seen strong demand for our product, particularly during the summer months, largely as a result of the over 500 rooms that we have added within the last few months; and our robust summer campaign #WhatCoolLooksLike”, said the country’s Tourism Minister.
“This exciting news comes on the heels of the recent announcement by Virgin Atlantic to also add an additional flight to the destination this winter from the United Kingdom; with British Airways continuing to offer 6 flights a week going into summer 2020. This is a ringing endorsement and clear confidence in Antigua and Barbuda, as a preferred destination of choice by our airline partners” said Minister Fernandez.
A series of successful presentations were made to the airline partners, with a detailed update given on the improved airport infrastructure, recent growth within the destination’s room stock, in addition to more planned developments with over 2,000 new hotel rooms on schedule to be ready in the next two years.
Meetings were also held with United Airlines and Southwest to explore all opportunities for the destination, in particular the new US gateways of Houston, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale and Chicago. The update was well received, with the carriers indicating that Antigua and Barbuda is listed as a top priority for new routes as soon as additional aircraft become available. Recent challenges with the Boeing MAX 8 aircraft have impacted the growth schedules of those carriers whose fleets included significant numbers of the now grounded aircraft.
CEO of The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Colin C. James indicated that he was pleased with the feedback from the airline partners who welcomed the face-to-face meetings. “The two new additional Jet Blue flights, each 150 seats per flight, will have the airline flying to Antigua on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The increase in this carrier’s capacity will be a welcome boost for our weddings and honeymoon market.
It will ensure that adequate airlift is available to support the marketing efforts of both the Tourism Authority and our hotels ahead of the busy Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, which signals the start of the winter season,” said James.
The meeting with American Airlines also resulted with agreement on the resumption of the second daily flight from Miami on December 18th.
The strong load factors and excellent performance of the US market, which has experienced double digit growth this year, has resulted in the increased service from our largest source market. These additional seats will further propel the strong growth that Antigua and Barbuda has been experiencing in overall air visitor arrivals this year. According to tourism officials, all leading tourism indicators are pointing to 2019 being a record year for the country’s air visitor arrivals.