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Lighting up the Caribbean skies

Lighting up the Caribbean skies

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It’s always been the tail that’s done it for me. An inveterate traveller, I had been seduced by one airplane’s showy tail after another as I made my often frustrated way through the Caribbean, shepherded from one airborne taxi to another, abandoned in departure lounges and frustrated by the vagaries of scheduling. The tails of aircraft tell a story – how much pride is in the airline, how current is its livery. The tail holds an airline’s identity. Tail after tail had failed to live up to its promise, and most have long since disappeared.

Travel was a necessary evil though, endured rather than appreciated until one November morning in 2000. {{more}} Walking on the tarmac to the Caribbean Star aircraft waiting to bring me home, I was instantly seduced by the bold, confident Caribbean yellow on the tail I saw shining in the bright light of new morning. I smiled, won over already. In eager anticipation of the promise held by the abstract star on the bold yellow, my smile grew bigger. But it paled in comparison to the one that greeted me at the door to the aircraft, the one on the face of the cheongsamed flight attendant. It’s a memory still guaranteed to bring a smile to my face, and still the reality for passengers boarding any Caribbean Star flight five years later.

Barely a month old when we were introduced, Caribbean Star has seen much change since. The fleet has grown from the initial three Dash 8 aircraft to the current 10 (seven Dash 8-300s and three Dash 8-100s), providing more than 100 flights to 14 destinations per day. This is in keeping with Star’s mission to be “… the premier regional air carrier providing safe, reliable, efficient and affordable transportation combined with excellent customer service.” The one thing that hasn’t changed is the commitment and dedication behind the smiles at Caribbean Star, those infectious smiles that have been known to bring a return twinkle from the face of even the most jaded traveller.

With its superior in-flight service, efficient customer handling and 95 per cent on-time performance, Caribbean Star gives travellers a reason to smile, bringing benefits to both regional and international passengers by increasing travel options and providing competitive fares. It works. There are 72 original staff members that prove it and a number of awards that celebrate it. Since 2003, awards for Star include:

* Caribbean World’s “Best Inter-Island Airline of the Year” (twice)

* Caribbean Information Technology Award: “Best Air Travel Website”

* Voted “Best Regional Carrier” by the Government of St. Kitts

* “Best Airline” (Bronze Award) – Virgin Holidays (UK)

R. Allen Stanford, founder of Caribbean Star, says “We want to play our part in increasing the movement of people and cargo among the islands, be it for business or pleasure.” The airline has averaged approximately 50 per cent growth per year in passenger traffic between 2001and 2004, and increased courier operations from 14,609 pounds in 2002 to a current projection of more than 200,000 pounds in 2005.

Customer loyalty, however, may be the best mark of success for an airline, given the state of the travel and tourism markets. That measure indicates success too, as the airline’s Star Miles Frequent Flyer membership has grown 356 per cent since 2003.

Soon it will be five years since my infatuation began, but nothing has changed except the number of people that share it. Caribbean Star’s long-term goal is to be “… the world’s best airline.” Given its phenomenal growth and continued commitment to service, that’s something else we’ll have to smile about.

I continue to smile every time I board a Caribbean Star aircraft, and every time I look up at the inviting sight of the tail. This is the Caribbean that I know we can be – bold, proudly efficient providers of a quality service. I think of the hand-drawn star as not only a service promise, but as a hint of the treasures that our region holds. This is a Star committed to lighting up Caribbean skies.



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