Caribbean Airlines CEO Garvin Medera. – Jeff K Mayers
DIRECT flights from Piarco International Airport and Caracas, Venezuela are set to resume on Saturday, paving the way for increased tourism and trade between both countries.
CAL announced on April 24, the resumption of direct flights. Initially, flights will operate every Saturday and a higher frequency is expected in the future.
“This marks an important step forward for the airline as it continues to connect the Caribbean region and provide added value to its customers.
“With the largest network in the region, Caribbean Airlines is committed to offering its passengers convenience, allowing them to fly within, to and from the Caribbean with ease,” the airline said in a statement.
Garvin Medera, CEO of CAL expressed his enthusiasm for the airline’s continued growth and commitment to the Caribbean region.
“The Caribbean is our home and we are dedicated to connecting our people and communities,” he said.
He continued, “Caribbean Airlines is ready to grow, and we are delighted to resume flights to Caracas and provide reliable and convenient travel options for our valued customers.”
With increased frequency expected in the future, travellers can look forward to more travel options to and from Caracas, Venezuela and other destinations in the Caribbean.
At the beginning of April, the Venezuelan airline Rutaca had reactivated Piarco-Margarita flights and vice versa as part of shopping tourism.
Since last year, only the borders between TT and Venezuela were open to travellers by sea. Several Venezuelan and Trinidadian vessels left from the ports of Cedros and Chaguaramas bound for Tucupita and Guiria.
However, only the local shipping company Triniflyer has the legal authority to bring passengers from Venezuela, complying with the requirements demanded by the immigration division.
Flights through Caribbean Airlines can be booked in the company’s website. Until last weekend, the closest reservations enabled were for Saturday, June 3.
The price of the ticket shown on the official website is US$554.40 for a round trip. This includes the payment of taxes, fees and charges. In Venezuela, some travel agencies are offering tickets for US$600.
Both trips would last approximately 1 hour and 55 minutes.
Until now, going to Venezuela by air could be done with a stopover flight in Panama with a price close to US$1,000 for a one-way ticket.
Businessman and co-founder of Medl – an IDB Lab and Microsoft-backed Insur/Health-tech social enterprise – told Newsday that reopening of the air route between Piarco-Caracas was great news for TT.
“We need to aggressively position ourselves as a welcoming place for Venezuelan migrants and their human capital,” he said.
Mohammed believes if positioned correctly, this could be combined with intensive Spanish language teaching in schools to give TT a competitive edge in the lucrative and untapped Latin America market.
He also said that in TT, several companies such as Massy, ABIL and Bermúdez regularly enter Colombia and Costa Rica to do trade.
“Let’s treat the Venezuelan influx not as a threat but as an opportunity to expand this momentum,” he said.
Dennys Hernández, a Venezuelan political scientist, economist and lawyer, said reactivation of the Caracas-Piarco route is great news for his country.
“Taking into account the political, social and economic situation Venezuela is going through and that it is an extraordinary country that offers wonderful places which can be visited by the citizens of TT, it would mean an extraordinary income in tourism in the first place and that leads to other businesses,” he said.
He said the previously only route to and from both countries i.e., by the sea, was one taken advantage of by shipping companies which raised the price of sea transport excessively.
“With the reopening of the direct flight route, these shipping companies will now be forced to adjust their prices back to more realistic rates given there is now competition,” he said.