BA: Better times with new hotels
BRITISH AIRWAYS (BA) is looking forward to the opening of two new hotel chains in Barbados.
District manager Nigel Blackett said yesterday that the industry took a major hit with the closure of Almond Resorts and he was looking forward to the arrival of major chains Sandals and Beaches.
He said Beaches was particularly promising because, like Almond, it was targeting families.
“Sandals and Beaches . . . will be a very strong proposition for us and the country as well. It is a strong brand. They advertise heavily, not only in the United States which most people tend to focus on, [but] also quite heavily in the United Kingfdom (UK) and it’s well known in the UK. It will attract families to Barbados, both the Beaches and the Sandals.
“But we’re more concerned with the family; there is a gap in our product in terms of the family market. So it will definitely be a plus for Barbados. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a long wait before it comes,” Blackett said.
He was speaking yesterday at a showcase of the British Airways Lounge at Grantley Adams International Airport, which was officially opened on December 4.
The 64-seat lounge is a part of the $5 billion the airline plans to inject into upgrading its services over the five-year period ending 2017.
New planes, training for staff and new technology are included in the plans. British Airways is celebrating 60 years of non-stop flights to Barbados and Blackett said the outlook looked “quite good”. He said BA made a profit of £633 million last year, compared to £274 million in 2012. He said the target was £1.5 billion by 2015.
There will be daily flights to Barbados during the summer and ten per week in the winter. Two additional flights will be brought on for the December 10 to February 25 period.
“Overall we’ve had increased visitor arrivals on BA for the first quarter of this year. And the projections are that this will continue. April is quite busy, obviously with the Easter period, and summer is also looking very good. The fact that we’ve put 12 flights on for the winter is indication that we see growth in the UK market,” Blackett stated.
Although the Air Passenger Duty (APD) on long-haul flights is to be reduced from next year, Blackett is hoping it will have a long-term effect on the number of passengers coming into Barbados.
The APD tax was still a bone of contention for the airline. Blackett said their position was that it should be abolished because surveys had shown that it had no positive effect on the
UK economy. More important, he said, the APD had made other destinations more attractive than coming to Barbados.