The 5-month old Grenada government of new Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell is apparently coming to the aid of Inter Caribbean which is under severe public criticisms in recent weeks for its service mainly between the Maurice Bishop International Airport at Point Salines and the Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados.
A top civil aviation official told THE NEW TODAY that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration will be helping to subsidise the Grenada/Barbados route by helping the airline to introduce a new 5-seater ATR plane instead of the existing 30-seater that is deemed to be slow and noisy.
He said that Inter will be bringing a different but much more modern plane into service similar to what Liat and Caribbean Airlines use to provide a service among the islands of the Eastern Caribbean.
Inter Caribbean started operating in the Eastern Caribbean during the Coronavirus Pandemic in 2020 when air service was stopped by Liat and Caribbean Airlines.
Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Lennox Andrew could not be reached for comment on the issue.
According to the civil aviation industry official, the problem with Inter Caribbean is its unreliability and the fact that the aircraft being used “is too small, too slow and too old.”
He was optimistic that the introduction of the 50-seater plane on the Barbados/Grenada route will hopefully “help the situation in terms of reliability and so on.”
Last week a number of passengers were left stranded allegedly as the aircraft was affected by maintenance issues.
Some locals were forced to miss their Visa appointments with the U.S embassy in Barbados.
Several persons have been complaining of not being able to get seats on the daily service to the Grantley Adams International airport due to the limited capacity of the existing aircraft that can accommodate only 30 passengers.
The aviation expert has welcomed this development with Inter Caribbean due to the fact that “we don’t have a viable alternative” especially after the coronavirus pandemic when regional travel came to a standstill and is still to recover.
He said the operators of the airline will definitely be getting “a good deal” from the Dickon Mitchell-led Congress government to operate the Barbados route.
According to the airline official, persons in the industry are not taking the Antigua-based Liat seriously anymore.
“It’s just a comedy show,” he said of LIAT’s current operations in the Caribbean.
He blasted the airline for lack of a computer service, as well as no interline and any relationship with travel agents.
“It’s not the Liat that we knew,” he said, adding that the old Liat understood connectivity, and had decent fares.
“It is unconscionable that you charge $550.00 one way to Antigua – it’s just not making any sense,” he told THE NEW TODAY.
“It is not only the pricing that is off key but the fact that they are not generating a proper airline system that will allow bookings from Travel Agencies and other airlines which traditionally is 80 % of Liat’s business which came from international traffic from British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada among others,” he said.
He warned that the newlook Liat under the control of the government of Antigua has cut itself out from traffic especially from British Airways and is losing money.
The civil aviation official also commented on the recent announcement of the resumption of daily flights from Grenada to Trinidad and Tobago.
He said there is nothing to really gloat about as prior to Covid, there was sometimes on average 4 flights per day between MBIA and the Piarco International Airport.
According to the official, there is much more interaction between Grenada and Trinidad than with Barbados as people conduct more visits between these two islands in terms of business, as well as seeking medical attention and visiting relatives.
He said it simple does not make any sense having more visits to Barbados than Trinidad as currently exist.
“…We do not have as much link with Barbados as we do with Trinidad. The market is Trinidad first then Barbados, so there is an inequality there,” he remarked.