Curacao's Executive Director of Tourism says Caribbean Aviation a Tragedy
Politicians don't have a clue about aviation
It often happens that
politicians and the private sector meddle in
aviation matters, while most of the time they do
not even have the knowledge.
Furthermore, when it comes to financial
support, the private (hotel) sector fails badly. With a literally fire-and-brimstone
sermon, Clifton Wallé, CTB-director welcomed the
audience at the airport conference in the Marriott
early this week.
of the politicians don’t have a clue about
the reason why politics have undermined the
commercial operation of many regional companies.
“One part doesn’t understand anything
about route-development. Destinations are launched and then cancelled again as a
result of political decisions.
Agreements are entered on political level
without deliberating first with airline companies
and other interested parties.”
private sector in the region described Wallé as a
“strange being; as e chameleon; very visible
when not needed and invisible when needed”.
Everywhere you see the private sector meddle in
discussions about aviation developments, while
often they do not know much about aviation.
“Discussing markets with them is the same
as having a plumber do an open heart surgery.
And when it comes to marketing support, the
sector is no available.”
empathetically appealed to the airport, airline
companies, and the tourist sector to follow the
continued changing market.
There’s not much in it for the aviation
entire sector makes about 6 million dollars profit
worldwide, not even 2 percent yield on
investments; “way under the expectations of
investors that demand 7 to 8 percent in sectors
with a comparable risk.”
Caribbean is just a small part of the total
aviation market, and that part continues to get
smaller, because other markets will grow faster in
the coming 10 years.
Caribbean airline companies belong to the
ones that perform worst in the world.
“We almost tower above them.”
He cited the national airline companies of
Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica as an example.
BWIA had a loss of 26 million dollars last
year and one million dollars every month of this
company that will cease to exist at the end of
this year needs 250 million dollars to proceed.
Jamaica had a loss of 136 million dollars last
year and received an 85 million dollars injection
this year. “The
barometer in the region drops fast; enough to
become depressed, just as happened to many of my
colleagues in the past years.”
can tell you all about it.
“Loosing one airline company is
Loosing two is sloppy!
In the past ten years, Curacao and the
Neth.Antilles had lost three airline companies,
namely ALM, Air ALM and DCA.”
explained very clear the problems the regional
aviation is coping with, like small islands that
are in the making and the critical survival-mass
that is often lacking.
All the Caribbean airline companies have a
Strategically considered, the Caribbean
airline companies are not attractive for the big
aviation alliances, and they get isolated and
cannot optimize their distribution.
The regional airline companies do not have
enough buffers and can therefore not compete.
CTB-director was also self-critical.
“We pretend to be dynamic and
professional, but we are not resistant to the
Caribbean depression and political influences.
Short-term planning often wins from
Political influence forms the biggest
threat for successful and sustained marketing of
One of the main duties of the CTB is and
remains the attraction of airline companies that
fit in the market strategy.”
of the Caribbean countries have an open sky-treaty
with the United States.
“I am sorry to say this, but these
treaties have not done the regional companies any
Caribbean market is open for the US companies, but
not the other way around.
Again, unless the Caribbean companies form
alliances with other companies and with this
create a win-win situation by connecting networks,
they won’t have a chance in a big combat with
the big American airports and airline
named the demands in order to come to a good
development of aviation.
The markets have to be clearly portrayed
and the product has to be positioned on top of
that. The quality product has to be marketed in the right markets
as ‘value for money’.
This will build up the volume and the
airline companies can be approached in an attempt
to convince them that a flying route to Curacao
“Airline companies are continuously
looking for more marketing- and commercial
pressure of competitors and bad structured support
elsewhere in the region screw up the expectations
of airline companies.
This tendency can damage the entire market
on the long term.
We must therefore come to a reform that
suites all parties.”
must not only create the volume, but also
communicate the possibilities to reach the
You can not just leave the marketing to the
Continental for example, they have hundreds of
Besides, the people that decide on the
routes of an airline company often have nothing to
say on marketing and promotion.
We are better off not losing our time on
new airlift if we are not going to do anything on
marketing our destination, marketing the flight or
put money into a so-called route development fund.
To my opinion, the private- and public
sector should create this fund together.
The hotel sector will immediately take
advantage of it anyway.”
The CTB has a clear vision. “We will continue supporting local airline initiatives, if their networks are consistent with our strategies. We will continue building on new links from the markets that we want to develop.”
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