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WORLD ROUTES 2013: A & B CONFIRMED ATTENDEES
Monday 14th October 2013
(left to right)- Chairman of the ABAA -  Patrick Ryan, CEO of the ABTA  - Colin C. James, and General Manager of the AHTA -  Neil Forrester.
 
Antigua and Barbuda tourism and airport officials combined their marketing efforts to attend the world’s largest aviation conference at the 19th World Routes Aviation Forum, hosted by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority.  The country’s delegation included CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin C. James, Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority, Patrick Ryan, and General Manager of the Antigua and Barbuda Hotel and Tourist Association, Neil Forrester. The destination collaborated with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) to ensure that it had a more formidable presence and representation of its interests at the forum.
 
The team conducted a series of back-to-back meetings with existing Airline partners that now service the twin-island state, as well as new, prospective Airline partners in anticipation of an increased demand for the country‘s tourism product.  Each Airline was given a detailed presentation of the destination with particular emphasis on the new Airport terminal, which will be fully operational in 2014.  The country’s International Airport, which handled over 800,000 passengers in 2012, will be able to facilitate two and a half times more that number of passengers upon completion.
 
In addition to meetings with existing Airlines, such as United Airlines and British Airways, several new airlines were courted. These included Latin American carriers such as, GOL and COPA, who have already begun to service the region with direct flights from Brazil and Panama. The team also used the opportunity to meet with Airline officials from Jet Blue, Air France, Air Italia, and Sun Country Airlines to initiate business contacts and to ensure that Antigua and Barbuda remains firmly fixed on their radar as they look to expand airline routes throughout the region.
 
Minister of Tourism, Hon. John H. Maginley indicated, “There has been a marked increase in demand for the destination following the recent major PR initiatives - The Bachelorette and The X-Factor. These popular Primetime TV programmes showcased the country to millions of television viewers in two of the islands’ largest source markets. The airlines which the country is currently engaging with would have already seen the spike in enquiries and demand for our product”.
 
CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority confirmed that all the airlines executives who were engaged were keenly interested in the destination and the opportunities that it presented in light of the new terminal with its state- of-the-art facilities. “The tripartite approach with the Tourism and Airport Authorities, working in conjunction with the private sector Hotel Association, was the best way to engage new carriers.  This sends the right message that all local stakeholders are in sync with regards to growing the nation’s vital tourism industry,” said James.
 
For the upcoming winter season the destination has now secured additional airlift with daily flights on American Airlines from JFK New York, in addition to Miami. Virgin Atlantic will also increase its flights to four direct flights per week to Antigua.
 
British Airways also returns to a daily schedule for the upcoming winter season and will increase its summer flights next year from five to six. The destination will also, for the first time, see Thomas Cook operate a once-weekly service out of Manchester. This boost in UK flights will return the country to pre-crisis airlift seat numbers from the vital UK market, which traditionally yields a longer stay-over visitor.
 
From December 2013, Antigua will also receive two (2) flights per week from Guadeloupe via Air Antilles Express on Mondays and Thursdays.  This code share agreement between Corsair and Air Antilles Express will open up the opportunity for more French tour operators to sell packages to the destination.
 

The improved airlift into Antigua and Barbuda for the upcoming winter season demonstrates a renewed confidence in the islands as a premier tourist destination from its long-standing and new airline partners.

 


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