In T&T: CAL goes to London in June

3 February 2012

CAL looks for ‘life in London’ again…has to tend with competition from British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Kingston (Jamaica) – London service likely to resume by 2013.

Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) will resume services to the United Kingdom on June 15. According to a senior airline official, the planned daily service to London, Gatwick will be operated by a B-767 aircraft, two of which are being leased from Chilean airline Lan Chile. The aircraft are expected in Trinidad sometime in March.

The spokesman said the airline regarded the restart of the London service as particularly important since this year marks the 50th anniversary of a Trinidad and Tobago carrier operating flights to London from Trinidad and Tobago.

The decision to resume flights to London out of Port-of-Spain would put CAL in direct competition with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, two major United Kingdom carriers, which operate services out of several Caribbean islands to London, including Trinidad and Tobago. At one point some years ago, the London service by the now defunct BWIA was regarded as that airline’s most lucrative route.

A delegation of CAL officials, led by acting chief executive officer Robert Corbie and including marketing manager Alicia Cabrera, spent all of this week in London meeting with travel agents, tour operators and wholesalers as well as airport officials. The group is expected in Trinidad on Monday.

Simultaneously, other negotiations are continuing between CAL officials and UK authorities regarding resumption of another London service, this time out of Kingston, Jamaica by Air Jamaica. This service is expected to begin either late this year or early in 2013. Air Jamaica used to operate a Kingston/London service, but this was discontinued some time ago when, like CAL, it sold its Heathrow slots to Virgin Atlantic for US$10.2 million.

Meanwhile Caribbean Airlines is preparing to take delivery of its third ATR-72-600 on February 16. Although this would be Carnival weekend, it is not certain whether this latest aircraft, expected to be registered TTC, would be approved for service by the regulatory authorities in time

The spokesman also said CAL was looking at additional intra Caribbean routes possibly into Antigua and even as far north as Puerto Rico. He added however that these services would not go into operation in the near future. He added, should LIAT reduce its routes as is being bandied about, “CAL is prepared to pick up the slack and would serve as back up to the countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).”


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