Less than a year after Virgin Atlantic resumed service to Tobago, the Tobago Tourism Agency Limited announced it would be discontinuing its airline contract with Virgin Atlantic for airlift between Tobago and the UK.
In a release TTAL said, this is the result of a strategic review and realignment of the Agency’s investment in airlift for the destination.
TTAL confirmed that on December 31, 2022, Virgin Atlantic will cease to operate its direct weekly flight from London Heathrow to the ANR Robinson International Airport in Tobago. TTAL Executive Chairman Alicia Edwards said the difficult decision to discontinue the airlift contract was necessary as Virgin’s flight has not performed as well as other carriers for the region, and “is no longer a financially viable option for Tobago.”
Edwards said, “The return on investment for the Virgin Atlantic airlift subsidy funded by the public sector has been deteriorating steadily over the years, to the point where the renewal of their contract could not be logically defended and executed. “
The release added, “In reassessing our destination’s tourism product, state of the industry post-pandemic and other tangible considerations, destination Tobago is not the best fit for a partnership with Virgin at this time.”
Virgin had only resumed service to Tobago on January 29, 2022, following the closure of Trinidad and Tobago’s borders in March 2020 as a result of the Covid -19 pandemic.
Edwards noted despite Virgin’s service being discontinued, there remained other options for European travellers to come to Tobago including British Airways’ twice a week service from London’s Gatwick Airport. She also noted there were regular flights from London to Port of Spain, from which a flight to Tobago could be attained.
Virgin issued an advisory of its own on Tuesday, in which the airline’s Senior Vice President Dominic Kennedy explained to customers the Tobago route would be discontinued
The statement read, “As customer demand continues to return strongly after the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re making adjustments to upcoming flying schedules to support the ramp up of our operation and to reflect changes in customer demand outlook.As a result, during 2023, we’ve implemented some changes to service frequencies and aircraft types and unfortunately made some advance cancellations on certain routes.”
The advisory continued, “As part of these schedule changes, we’ve taken the commercial decision to end our Heathrow Tobago flights from 11th January 2023. We’d like to sincerely thank our partners in Trinidad and Tobago for all their support over the years. This beautiful destination will always hold a very special place in our hearts. We did have every intention to continue our service to the destination and it is with regret that we are unable to continue our operations. As it stands, we do not have plans to operate the service in Winter 2023.”