Virgin reports strong bookings for Barbados

Amid a less than favourable economic climate coupled with two years of struggle internationally, Virgin Atlantic officials are reporting strong forward bookings for the Barbados market.

Commercial Manager for the Caribbean Andre Bello said although he remained concerned about the current economic conditions, he was confident about the island’s performance.

Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy also said today he expects Barbados to benefit from new business opportunities arising out of the recent partnership between Delta Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. Sealy also said he was expecting even better bookings out of the United Kingdom next year, as changes to the controversial Air Passenger Duty (APD) take effect.

The two officials were speaking at the re-opening of the recently refurbished Virgin Atlantic offices in Hastings, Christ Church this morning.

The improved accommodation includes more of the bright red associated with the airline.

It also employs an open door policy with each office space separated by glass instead of walls.

Virgin Atlantic’s regional commercial manager Andre Bello
Virgin Atlantic’s regional commercial manager Andre Bello

Saying he had no major concern when it came to crime in Barbados, Bello told reporters that when compared to other regional destinations, the island was “in a really good place in terms of the level of crime here”.

“For me in particular the concern is about the economy here because my job is to sell tickets from Barbados to the UK . . . I am looking for that improvement in the economy which I hope I could see turn around in the next couple of years,” said Bello.

Despite this concern, however, he said there had been a “double digit increase” this year when compared to last year in terms of  bookings both going to and coming from the UK.

“It is driven by the changes we made in the aircraft to give us more capacity with the demand. There is demand in the front of the plane that speaks well for the market and the product . . . We have seen an increase in Barbados, pretty much the strongest increase across the Caribbean.

“Barbados alone accounts for about 54 per cent of our market in the Caribbean. It is a very strong market for us and we are expecting it to grow next year,” he said.

Adding that Virgin was in Barbados “to stay”, Bello said overall forward bookings were “stronger than ever”.

“Virgin Atlantic has actually come out of two tough years and globally we are going to be making a profit next year. When we look at the Caribbean and all our routes we know that when we look at the bookings going forward it is going to be good. We feel very optimistic,” said Bello, adding that the airline was also predicting an increase in revenues.

And while he could not give any specific figures on the Barbados market, he told reporters that “heavy growth” has been recorded in the business and premium classes, with a lot of bookings going as far as eleven months ahead.

This, he said, was as a result of the introduction of the A330 service based on market demand.

The Virgin Atlantic official expects the adjustment in the APD as well as further improvements in the UK economy to result in an increase in the number of travelers to the Caribbean from that source market.

Bello also said that the UK-based airline would continue to invest in product development based on demand, especially when it came to its in-flight offerings.

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