Caribbean Regional Airline

Seeking consensus among the pros who are involved - perhaps as a guideline to the politicians and bureaucrats
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bimjim
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Caribbean Regional Airline

Unread post by bimjim » Mon Aug 03, 2009

We have been through this perhaps twice already here, but the past powers-that-be did not seem to have noticed.

My concept for a regional airline is for a single umbrella name and overall management which coordinates the use of national and multi-national airlines to provide a seamless travel experience across the entire Caribbean. The exceptions are that I would not realistically expect the Americans, French or Dutch to cooperate or even be involved, but the independent countries (and perhaps the British Territories) could easily be part of the overall concept, from Guyana all the way to the Bahamas.

The umbrella organisation would provide a single livery (paint scheme, hiring requirements and overall minimum standards, training, ticketing, sales, marketing, web site, supplies like fuel and common consumables, etc.) and set the schedules. The individual airlines would operate the schedules and perhaps perform an accounting with the umbrella organisation based on seat miles flown or some similar pre-agreed arrangement. The rest of the details I leave to whoever decides to initiate the suggestion at the highest levels (political. I would expect) and those who agree to be involved.

Let the stoning commence...

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Re: Caribbean Regional Airline

Unread post by michaelawai » Mon Aug 03, 2009

It's a great idea!

However, I do think that little thing called PRIDE would get in the way of such an idea. :|
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Re: Caribbean Regional Airline

Unread post by OnEdge » Mon Aug 03, 2009

It sounds so good and would be possible if things like greed and corruption didn't exist.

But I think if it happens it will expose how corrupt and dishonest airlines have been with their prices since there will no longer be any justifiable reason to have high prices. The Caribbean is too small to have all these airlines trying to make a profit. In the end, poor passengers are left to pay ridiculous prices to travel such short distances. I think part of any venture of this sort would involved revisiting choice of aircrafts.

Not to mention airlines spend too much on cargo divisions, contracting other airlines to fly their cargo when they can do it themselves and make it alot more profitable for themselves..but that's for maybe a "Cari-Cargo part 2" discussion.

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Re: Caribbean Regional Airline

Unread post by bimjim » Mon Aug 03, 2009

I woke up today thinking that apart from the necessary umbrella carriers - intra-regional and extra-regional - there would be guaranteed income for a local carrier in each island - operating a piece of the schedule, hub-and-spoke, from that location, plus local cargo, charters, etc. - and each government could require the local carrier to operate intra-national services (such as SKB-NEV, ANU-BBQ, POS-TAB) and keep the subvention (financial support) for those routes) off the books of the umbrella company.

To some extent, each Division of the Umbrella could focus on keeping its expenses down by specialising, and hopefully there would be a reduction in costs and fares - especially if the Umbrella could reduce expenses by bulk buying for the entire organisation (the primary savings being on fuel).

The place to keep politics out of would be the umbrella company. But if CARICOM or the OECS were used as the overseeing force, hopefully that level could sort out those issues before they got to the airline umbrella level.

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Re: Caribbean Regional Airline

Unread post by islandflyer » Sun Sep 27, 2009

Let me make a small edit to the idea.

Like you, bimjim, my concept of the umbrella body (called Paradise Caribbean) would have emcompassed what was then BW, LI, and JM with a common livery, etc, etc, redistributing the fleets in a more effective manner based on the best needs of the combined network. In other words, together they would have had I think a fleet size of 9 X BW, 16 X JM, and 14 x LI = 39 aircraft, and a combined (unfiltered) network of 55 (with obvious duplications).

But there were issues - JM had an all Airbus fleet, BW primarily Boeing. Would it have made economic sence to replace the seven 737-800's with A320's? Could a 320 do the POS-YYZ as well as the 738? Or maybe rearrange the scheduling, so the MBJ base takes that route. What about the 343's - LHR from both KIN and POS/BGI, and a token MAN flight. Does that stay as is? And then what about LI - are they to be dragged kicking and screaming into the jet age, or stay with their props? And what about staff? How would pilots move up through the ranks? Could a low time JM pilot be seconded to BW to build time, and at what level would he/she come into the BW structure? And the massive cuts expected with the joint engineering, sales & marketing, and ground handling divisions?

I think I got to the stage where a combining a resources under a common umbrella was troublesome, since the political machinery would never stand for it, and you couldn't stand without them. So Paradise Caribbean became another dusty folder of doodles and charts in a folder on my desk.

Now in 2009, given the woeful financial and staff relations state of LI, the (in my opinion) miraculous and none to be believed financial recovery of CA/BW, and the rotting financial corpse of JM, I think an umbrella is the wrong way to go. Maybe an outright butchery might work. I propose to break JM into at least 3 seperate divisions - airline, maintenance, and ground handling, then "kill" the least profitable, i.e the airline. Simultaneously, since CA is supposed to be in such great shape, see if they can "buy" the airline routes and put in a bid to operate some of them using the same aircraft, staff, etc from a "new" Jamaican base under a "new" Jamaican identity as a division or sister company of CA. So the "new" Jamaican airline is effectively part of a Caribbean entity. Win-win. CA gets more access to the US market, JM gets to stay alive, most people keep their jobs. It still allows for fleet restructuring if necessary, but now the money making ground handling and maintenance areas can work independantly, the respective airlines can fine tune themselves with now 2 bases at POS and MBJ (with a minor base at KIN). Then after a few years, see what LI is up to and if they want to be bought over too, although my gut tells me that the secret to success is extra-regional.

More comments?

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Re: Caribbean Regional Airline

Unread post by bimjim » Sun Sep 27, 2009

Despite the obvious preference to have such an organisation, I have long believed that it could never and would never work. They can't share power at a political level, and they won't cooperate with regional resources at a regional communal level, whether to invest in a single regional entity or come under a common umbrella.

Trinidad always wants to dominate, Jamaica refuses to be dominated, and the small island peoples really do need their inter-island service... no matter what the few discontents (and there will always be some of those) say publicly about LIAT, the masses and the businessmen still enjoy it's relative reliability and safety - being a matter of the airline they love to hate.

This discussion came up when BWIA was staggering, JM was dithering, and LIAT was (as usual) having problems. If the politicians had been taking note of what their own professionals were saying, we would have seen some move in that direction. But, as we all know, if the ideas are not theirs to claim, the politicians don't want to hear about it.

So we can discuss as much as we want here openly and in complete privacy... nobody's watching us!!!

Way back when I was Secretary of LIALPA, which would have been more than 15 years ago - before 1995 - I was urging both the Members of LIALPA and those who had the best interests of Caribbean aviation at heart to communicate with anyone and everyone they had links to in the upper echelons of politics to influence decisions about our futures. If anyone took my urging seriously, nothing ever happened, but given the lack of interest I saw in West indians actually doing anything for themselves I don't seriously believe anyone made the effort.

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Re: Caribbean Regional Airline

Unread post by islandflyer » Mon Sep 28, 2009

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Re: Caribbean Regional Airline

Unread post by bimjim » Wed Apr 14, 2010

islandflyer wrote:Let me make a small edit to the idea....

...

More comments?
You did not get the concept... my idea suggests that each existing airline remain approximately the same, but come under common administration. That means CAL, JM and LI operate whatever types work for them, but no longer have the option to refuse to coordinate connecting flights or handle their own scheduled bookings - all that is done through the umbrella company.

Charters, and money-losing internal flights requiring government support (subvention), would be operated and dealt with financially at the local level, any quarrel between carrier and government remaining local (not requiring a HoG meeting to be discussed).

And the organisation would not be limited to CAL, JM and LI - like any airport environment, even the smallest carrier can be part of the mix, as long as they are willing to come up to and maintain the minimum standards and to convert their planes to the interior and exterior designs and specs like everyone else. So ideally the entire Caribbean area, from Trinidad (even Guyana) to Bahamas could be operated by the same airline name, just that the local carriers would be local and the regional mid and long range carriers would operate whatever they felt they could make money on.

They would ALL complement each other on connections, provide inter-island and intra-regional flights where appropriate, and the umbrella organisation would ensure that it was as efficient as possible, as far as connecting times and costs are concerned.

I just placed a response to a letter in the Jamaica Gleaner which discussed the coming election in PoS and how it might affect the Air Jamaica deal... so few people "get" this deal that it's laughable.

They are all still talking about CAL "buying" Air Jamaica, when all CAL is doing is cherry-picking the good routes and dumping the rest - typical Trinidadian behaviour. Trinidad DOES NOT WANT Air Jamaica, and never did... they just want the profits Air Jamaica was enjoying - without the debts or money-losing aspects - so they can extend their own route network and make more money (for Trinidad and Trinidadians, of course).

This thread is still open... and will probably get more attention (if my comment in the JG is approved by the moderator).

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