Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy revealed last night this aspect of what he called a “master plan” as his ministry officials and Air Canada representatives celebrated 65 years of aviation connection between this island and Canada.
The Minister also indicated that the air transport capacity has been increased by half owing to Air Canada’s introduction of new and larger aircraft on the Canada-Barbados route.
“We are in an advanced stage of designing adjustments to the terminal that will lead to the jet bridges,” Sealy said at Charles Fort, the Hilton. “Gone will be the days when if the rain is falling someone from the airport has to share out umbrellas as you descend a very treacherous stairwell to get down towards our terminal”.
“We are committed to enhancing the infrastructure at the airport and the seaport in order to make ourselves more competitive in terms of capacity and comfort in terms of those who are coming to our shores,” he said and added, “That will be done in the context of an airport master plan that will take into account all of the additional capacities that will be needed.”
Among the additional capacity needed by tourism authorities is a stepped-up ability to transfer those passengers arriving by air but bound for the Bridgetown Port to board cruise ships, along with “all the expected increases that we will have in airlift capacity, which of course will be led by Air Canada, as they continue to increase frequency”.
That expected increased frequency is favourably compounded by a jump in the number of seats aboard aircraft coming out of Canada.
“For the first time in a very long time we are going to see major increases with the advent of the Boeing 777 service into Barbados. It started the first day of this month and that new service will see approximately 50 per cent increase in seating capacity,” Sealy said.
Sealy told the gathering at a cocktail reception held for the airline company representatives and operators of its travel agency Air Canada Vacations that the Barbados Government had more than increased flight capacity as the Canadians have opted to take sole responsibility for insurance contingencies of passengers.
“Air Canada Vacations has assumed the risk on the Barbados route and that is, I understand, a first, and speaks volumes.”
Further, Sealy said he was pleased with arrangements to attract vacationers from farther parts of Canada.
“It [Air Canada Vacations] has also developed an integrated plan with the Sandals brand, and this I am told has the potential to support in the short to medium term introduction of a direct service to Barbados from Western Canada…that is of course music to our ears.”