Virgin Atlantic has reinforced its commitment to the Caribbean by adding extra flights to the region, at the same time as BA reduces the frequency of its Caribbean services due to the cost of APD taxes.
From winter 2011/12 Virgin will increase the number of available flights to Tobago, Barbados, Cuba and Grenada, and thanks to a re-fit of part of its fleet, will offer an increased number of premium economy seats to passengers. The airline hoped this would encourage a greater number of high-spending tourists to visit the area.
“We are proud of the business and revenue that is brought to the Caribbean through our presence and we are committed to extending that,” said Virgin Atlantic director of commercial and revenue planning, Edmund Rose. He also said that the Caribbean was “tremendously important to Virgin Atlantic.”
In contrast, British Airways recently announced it would cut the number of available seats on services to the Caribbean, due to reduced demand and prohibitively high APD taxes imposed on flights to the Caribbean. BA chief executive Keith Williams said that the company’s reduction in flights to the Caribbean was accompanied by a rise in flights to Florida, where taxes are as much as 20 per cent lower than those imposed on the Caribbean. Mr Williams said that BA would stand against any further increases in APD in order to “stop this destructive tax juggernaut in its tracks.”
David Scowsill, the president of the World Travel and Tourism Council, echoed Mr Williams’ sentiments at the recent State of Industry conference held by the Caribbean. He highlighted the reduced number of Brits visiting the region and suggested that APD was largely to blame.
“The distance-based system is discriminatory to the Caribbean and the Caribbean people living in the UK,” said Mr Scowsill. “The Caribbean is closer to the UK than the US West Coast yet it is in a higher band.”