Winair/ Air Antilles capitalizing on cohesiveness

POSTED: 11/30/14 11:14 PM

St. Maarten —With a strong economy and growing middle class that has set the stage for the region’s air traffic to grow at an average of 4.9 percent annually in the next 20 years, Winair and Air Antilles are looking to capitalize on this through their alliance that allows them to target a broader section of the Caribbean market by partnering with destinations.

The two airlines have never competed for flights, but by pooling their resources and through partnering with destinations like Dominica, they are working towards their goal of becoming the regions’ dominant air traffic provider. Currently the two companies are placing a lot of emphasis on their partner destination Dominica, where they see great possibilities for long term economic viability in large part based on that islands geographic location. Cooperation Winair/Air Antilles services destination Dominica four days a week and according to Winair CEO Michael Cleaver the possibility exists to add extra flights in 2015.

Cleaver added that a lot of consideration goes into choosing a destination and that while others were reviewed, conditions made Dominica– where the company had previously offered services but ceased– a sound investment. Cleaver assured that Winair has no intentions to stop its service to Dominica this time around, adding that the reception from that country has been encouraging. Cooperation Winair/Air Antilles reportedly also introduced flights on other routes that had been under consideration, but some of these proved not to be economically sound investments.

Both Cleaver and Air Antilles’ director Serge Tsygalnitzky expressed the desire to open a new route– St. Maarten-San Juan– in March 2015 and are optimistic of adding other new routes throughout the region depending on economic viability. However they lamented the high taxes that are levied on the airlines which in many cases makes it impossible to offer competitively priced fares to match the bigger airlines or to make travel within the region cheaper. They urge the regional governments to take into account the crippling effect these taxes have on the airlines. The airlines heads also regret that there is not enough cohesiveness within the airlines in the region that would also make it more affordable and easier for the airlines to serve all destinations.

They said they are looking to strengthen their alliance further by adding other airlines to the partnership and have already made some overtures, though they haven’t to date found any other airline that share their vision. By combining resources airlines are able to complement their fleets and explore new markets. Tsygalnitzy and Cleaver are happy that their airlines have taken the lead on forming regional alliances and are still optimistic of finding other providers to partner with and expand even further.

Latin America and the Caribbean has become– according to latest global market forecast—“one of the most urbanized regions in the world. The region’s GDP is currently growing at 3.9 percent per year, a growth rate above the world average of 3.2 percent per year. In the next 10 years, the economy in Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to outperform the world average, while the middle class population is forecast to grow more than 40 percent by 2033, from 278 million to 398 million people.

With plans for a $20 million dollar aircraft addition to their fleet, the airlines are well poised to make a bigger impact in the region’s air travel in 2015 and thereafter. There is also a projection for the creation of an additional 25 extra jobs within short from the alliance within the region.

Meanwhile representative of destination Dominica Herve Nizard said that destination Dominica is pleased with the alliance especially since the airlines consider the needs of the populace including most convenient flight times and really treats the island as a partner. Cleaver and Serge Tsygalnitzky said they hope to form equally strong partnerships with other destinations that they hope follow the example of their partnership experience with destination Dominica.

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