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Jean Holder, Chairman of LIAT, speaking after the launch of GOL’s inaugural flight to Barbados from São Paulo at the Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo, Brazil.

 
   

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Barbados in key position

6/28/2010

By Yajaira Archibald

WITH the launch of a direct flight between Brazil and Barbados, this country is poised to become the Caribbean region’s gateway to South America’s largest country.

In fact, talks have already commenced between regional airline, LIAT and GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes, the Brazilian carrier responsible for bringing a direct flight to Barbados out of São Paulo. Eduardo Bernardes, GOL’s Commercial Director, told the Barbados Advocate in an interview on Saturday that “LIAT might be a partner to GOL in the future”.

According to him, GOL is “very positive” about the flight and its success, based on their belief that “Caribbean countries are a good opportunity to develop new markets in Brazil.” He was speaking at the launch of the inaugural flight at the Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo.

Also discussing the mutual benefits such a partnership could bring was Jean Holder, LIAT Chairman, who, along with LIAT CEO, Brian Challenger, travelled to Barbados on the inaugural flight.

“The challenge always with opening new routes is filling the plane every time it leaves. I think we had some very useful discussions here with GOL; the CEO and myself, we had some meetings yesterday [Friday]. What we were looking at is a possible relationship which we are now trying to define between GOL and LIAT,” he began. “If we can bring traffic from all over the Caribbean into Barbados, that will certainly make the possibility of keeping this service flying a great deal better.”

Noting that it took him 13 hours to arrive in São Paulo from Barbados via Miami, while Mr. Challenger’s journey from Antigua took an exhausting 24 hours, he stressed the “major possibilities” of this new route for the business community.

“This GOL flight will open all of South America – Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and beyond – and there are many people who have the money and the resources who want to travel and who will find the Caribbean a very interesting market,” he remarked.

“What I want to emphasise is that the success of this relationship goes well beyond tourism. Brazil is one of the fastest developing countries in the world and the possibilities for business between the Caribbean and Brazil and beyond, really, that’s an important market that we need to be going after.”

In his view, the significant reduction in travel time, not to mention airfares, is a huge incentive for regional businesspersons to support this new airlink into South America, something which he stressed was important for the continuation of the flight.

“At the end of the day, however attractive it seems, if we cannot generate the needed minimum traffic... it will not survive. There’ve been several attempts in the past to do this; they failed because of a lack of sustained traffic. We believe that LIAT’s relationship with GOL, which we are now talking about, holds out the possibility of extending the [number of] bodies that will travel considerably and, therefore, the idea is to promote Barbados as a hub and to try to feed traffic over from the rest of the region,” he assured.

He indicated that they will be moving forward with negotiations, the next step of which would be to bring LIAT and GOL together at the planning level to get down to specifics. Flight schedules were identified as a challenge, with LIAT already committed to partnerships with carriers coming out of Europe and North America. He, however, added that a partnership still looked promising due to the technical compatibility between the two airlines. He maintained that with both carriers using the same distribution system, transitions between the two should be seamless.

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