German-owned three-star budget airline Eurowings canceled all of its Caribbean flights earlier this week. Barbados tourism authorities hope the decision will be temporary, although they welcomed the news that Barbados has struck an air transport agreement with the government of Qatar.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA), Dr. Jens Thraenhart, confirmed the departure of the German airline and said the news was shared with the region last week.
“So this is obviously short-term. It is very difficult to work with. But that’s the situation we’re in. We are working to achieve something. I mean, of course we have directors in our core UK markets [United Kingdom] and in Europe, Canada, USA [United States] and in the Caribbean.
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“We have calls with airlines every day. I actually have a call to a German airline today. We are trying to save this lost flight that we got from Eurowings. We work every day; We have two world class aviation consultants working with us. It’s a priority,” Thraenhart said at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC).
He said Eurowings had relocated the planes due to come to the region to North America, which he believes is a more profitable route.
Eurowings completed its first ten-hour non-stop flight to Barbados in 2019, landing at Grantley Adams International Airport with almost 300 passengers, giving Barbados better access to traffic from Europe.
Thraenhart acknowledged the difficulty for Barbados in competing with other destinations for air transport and that the island is caught up in a complex scenario as it relates to how airlines choose destinations to fly to.
“It has something to do with business travel, something with trade, freight, and it also has something to do with this volatile situation that we’re in right now where a lot of things are actually out of our control: high fuel prices, labor shortages and lack of capacity .
“In the end, we need to boost consumer demand to get the airlift. To drive consumer demand, we need to tell a compelling story that will make people come here, and beaches alone won’t do that. We need to change the way we tell history and sustainability, and experiences are one way to change that narrative,” he said.
Meanwhile, the government of Barbados has announced that it has reached an air services agreement with Qatar on the sidelines of the 41st General Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization which ended in Canada earlier this week.