New South American service to take flight from Friday

With all the necessary permissions now in hand, a new low-cost, non-scheduled air link will open up between Barbados and the Venezuelan island of Margarita on Friday, with connections to other South American destinations.

The revelation came this afternoon from Silverline Travel & Tours, the Barbadian company behind the twice-weekly charter service, that’s going to cost travelers $870 return.

Late last month, Barbados TODAY had reported that a service was being offered by a company called “Starline” without the required licence. However, Silverline Travel & Tours today confirmed it was the one offering the Margarita service and that it had now been given the necessary permissions to do so, in partnership with Executive Air, a local air company.

Managing director of ST&T, Judy Maughan, told Barbados TODAY there were plans to operate a similar service for other Caribbean countries.

Maughan said two 19-seater Jetstream aircraft would be deployed to ply the route on Mondays and Fridays. She noted that Barbadians would be able to stay over in Margarita for between three days and seven days.

“We are a fully licensed tour operator, a Barbadian company, and with our partners, Executive Air, we are offering flights to Margarita, as our first destination. We are using 19-seater Jetstream aircraft; we plan on operating at least twice per week on an ongoing basis. There will be direct flights; the air fare is very affordable,” stated the veteran tour operator, located in Pilgrim Road, Christ Church.

“In addition, we are offering packages that will include accommodation, transfers to and from the airport in Venezuela; and your departure tax from Barbados. We will start on the seventh of March,” disclosed Maughan.

Meanwhile, Barbados expects to make further inroads into the Latin American market from September, as the country seeks to wipe out a 5.5 per cent decline in tourist arrivals last year.

Very reliable Government sources told Barbados TODAY that a twice-weekly flight from Bogota, Colombia, was due to begin serving this island from September. The sources said the new service should bring an additional 100 passengers and help develop the Latin American market, with connections to Argentina, Chile, Peru and other Colombian cities.

Senior tourism officials said that the current once-per-week GOL Airlines flight from Brazil had not grown the Latin American market sufficiently, due to operational and technical challenges, and that the proposed new service would be a boost.

“We are already getting extra flights, 12 per week out of the UK. We have reintroduced the Barbados Island Inclusive programme, which brought 11,000 visitors last year and worked well during the slow period,” the Government official said.

“It was successful according to the vendors, restaurants, hotels and car rentals,” he noted. The official revealed that this year more vendors, restaurants, hotels and car rentals were participating.

From October, British Airways is also increasing the number of flights between Barbados and London’s Gatwick Airport from ten to 12 per week to service the busy winter months.

Last year, Barbados welcome almost 491,000 cruise ship passengers –– an improvement of 11 per cent over the previous period –– but the 457,493 tourist arrivals, fell by 5.5 per cent, according to the CTO.

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