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Regional flight plan

Regional flight plan

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Regional airline LIAT has partnered with its rival Caribbean Star and other regional carriers in a joint bid to be the official carrier for next year’s ICC’s Cricket World Cup (CWC).

Once approved by the CWC officials, a joint proposal by LIAT, Allen Stanford’s Caribbean Star and Caribbean Sun, Air Jamaica and BWIA will see the first major partnership between regional carriers, in a fight against several bids from extra-regional entities for the rights as official carriers for next year’s Cricket World Cup in the region.{{more}}

The proposed partnership between the regional carriers was confirmed by LIAT’s Chairman Dr. Jean Holder during a press conference with the regional media at the Sandals Resort in Antigua last Thursday.

According to the LIAT’s Chairman, this joint bid and cooperation between the airlines during the World Cup will become a legacy for the region.

“What can be better than for these competing carriers in the Caribbean to wake up one morning and decide, let us get together, work out a joint bid and submit that bid and decide to work together for the World Cup…that is what I have promoted for the last 15 years in the region. The airlines are better working together than apart,” Holder told the grouping of regional journalists.

Though no formal arrangements were disclosed about the likely financial gains and routes to be divided among the carriers, the airline’s chairman explained that the carriers involved would work out among themselves to determine which airline is best suited for the different routes.

“It is in the interest of our region to deliver the best air transportation system which the World Cup requires in order for it to be the best World Cup ever.

“None of the regional carriers felt that they can run what they do normally plus bid for the World Cup… I think this is a very sensible decision,” Holder mentioned. The cash-strapped regional carrier, LIAT, would more than likely be hoping to use next year’s huge World Cup traffic to ease its EC$180 million debt.

However, LIAT’s management was cautious about revealing the details surrounding the partnership.

Some airline executives say close to US$65 million could be saved through functional cooperation between regional carriers, giving indications that future mergers would essentially ease the burden of high operational cost of these regional airlines.

“We are prepared to handle the influx of people coming in for next year’s World Cup,” LIAT’s Chief Operations Officer Daniel Oliver mentioned to Searchlight on Thursday.

According to Oliver, plans are in place by some airlines to lease additional planes while LIAT would re-deploy some of its aircrafts to facilitate the matches.

“Already we have seen a significant demand for flights in the areas in which the games are being played, as a matter of fact, there are some flights that have already been sold out where we had to take the decision to increase the capacity overall. We are not turning any visitors away, all our heavy maintenance checks would be done by the end of 2006,” Oliver explained.

Oliver noted that a committee would be shortly put in place to “deal with the whole question of the World Cup in its entirety.”

The Chief Operations Officer mentioned that the feedback from a meeting with CWC officials indicates that the joint bid by the regional airlines would be favourably received.

“This is significant because for the first time we are getting all the regional airlines to come together and work as one on a particular project. This has never happened before,” Oliver stated.

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