Air Antilles, Winair announce strategic Caribbean alliance

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Air Antilles, Winair announce strategic Caribbean alliance

Unread post by michaelawai » Thu Feb 06, 2014

http://www.thedailyherald.com/index.php ... &Itemid=54

Air Antilles, Winair announce strategic Caribbean alliance
WEDNESDAY, 05 FEBRUARY 2014

ANSE MARCEL

The respective chief executives of regional airlines Air Antilles and Winair gave joint presentations of their recently formed alliance that sees both airlines pooling their resources and equipment to facilitate travel within the entire Caribbean to over 22 destinations from the hubs of St. Maarten, Guadeloupe, and Martinique.

With a combined total of 15 aircraft and 379 available seats to transport 600,000 passengers the alliance will see both airlines servicing more destinations than any of the six other regional competitors. Air Antilles will be operating out of Princess Juliana International Airport SXM as of February 15.

The alliance also expands Winair's network in the Caribbean for seamless connectivity to the Southern Caribbean, connecting St. Maarten to Fort-de-France and Pointe-à-Pitre. By combining their resources, both companies will be in a position to better service existing markets, open new markets, and expand into other areas of cooperation.

The presentations were made at the Radisson Blu Resort to an assembled gathering of representatives from the hotel associations of St. Maarten, St. Martin and St. Barths, travel agents, media from Guadeloupe and Martinique, tourism offices of St. Maarten and St. Martin, and Martinique, and representatives from the airport of Guadeloupe and SXM Airport.

Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Ted Richardson and Minister of Public Health Cornelius de Weever represented the Dutch-side while Territorial Councillor and President of the St. Martin Tourism Office Jeanne Vanterpool-Rogers, and MP Daniel Gibbs represented the French side.

The main speakers included President and CEO of Winair Michael Cleaver, President and CEO of Air Antilles Serge Tsygalnitzky (formerly Director General of Air Caraïbes), and Air Antilles major shareholder Eric Koury.

Also present but who did not speak was Chairman of Air Antilles Christian Marchand, Chairman of Winair Georges Greaux Jnr, and Chief Financial Officer of Winair, Roberto Gibbs.

"This is a really powerful alliance," commented Michael Cleaver in his presentation. "We are not changing the individuality of each airline. There will be interests that Winair will be free to pursue and likewise with Air Antilles. We are not talking about one company taking over another company. We're talking about working together, where it makes sense, finding synergy, lowering costs to pass it on to the customer.

"This not about creating a monopoly; in reality the benefits of this will greatly serve the customer, economically. We will offer good rates on each other's airline, what we call a through fare, making the cost of that transportation cheaper. The route network and the alliance that we now enjoy will virtually connect both airlines to the world."

Cleaver said he was not only excited and proud but very pleased with the alliance that has been over a year in the making adding that it is also exciting for the marketing representatives who sell the services.

"We made this happen because of the will of two companies. Most companies that form alliances are American to American, Dutch to Dutch, or English to English but ours is a unique partnership and an exception, as far as alliances go."

Serge Tsygalnitzky described it as a "very important" day for both companies.

The executives both gave historical overviews of their company's evolvement before citing the reasons for entering into an alliance, namely the difficulties of travelling from one island to another, few direct flights, few connections, high ticket prices, and lack of reliability of some operators.

There are 35 islands to link in an archipelago of 3,500kms, 50 airports to serve, and 4-million local passengers.

Both Winair and Air Antilles will schedule their aircraft fleets to complement each other and they will not compete on routes. Both companies share the same vision and philosophy to continue growth throughout the region. The alliance enhances the position of both companies for the future.

"Success and economic development is linked to opening of new routes between islands," Cleaver added. "The benefits are obvious. When you open up new routes, you bring cultures closer together, you get visitors who spend money, but you also open a line of commerce and trade."

Some US $20 million has been invested in the alliance and 25 jobs created.
"Our goal and ambition is to unite the region and provide more options to our customers. I think the Caribbean customer has been short-changed and we are working had to correct that," he said.

In his remarks, Minister Ted Richardson said it was quite appropriate for the private sector to bring people together.

"This is a great initiative. Anything we can do as Government to make this alliance grow, or to form other alliances, you can count on us," he said.

Asked by one reporter if Air Antilles had dropped Grand Case Airport in favour of Princess Juliana after last year's controversial tax increase, Eric Koury replied: "No, we will still be going to Grand Case Airport. The huge increase in the tax was a bad decision and created difficulties there for development. Even if Grand Case is the same price as Juliana today, it is no longer competitive for connections. So the major part of our operation will be through Juliana and this alliance."
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