Fri | Aug 17, 2018

To drive revenue, Caribbean Airlines offers multi-island hops and ticket bidding

Published:Friday | April 20, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Caribbean Airlines

Caribbean Airlines Limited, CAL, which considers North America its main market, is making a concerted effort to drum up business from inter-regional travel, in the wake of a parliamentary review last year that pressed the carrier to grow its market.

The regional carrier has been yoked by losses and struggling to attain profitability, which the review noted it can achieve this year, or at the very least, break even, if it found ways to improve revenue intake.

The report done last July followed an inquiry by a joint select committee of the Trinidad parliament into the operations of the airline that began in January 2017, sparked by its financial performance and rapid turnover of CEOs and other top executives.

Earlier this month, CAL began rolling out new products that allow travellers to and within the region to destination-hop at a cheaper rate, and bid for available seats for business travel, according to the carrier's communications unit, which labelled them as revenue-enhancement measures to boost growth.

Through 'Caribbean Explorer', for example, passengers can hop to three or five islands on one fare. Additional islands can be added for US$70.

The airline, in which Jamaica is a 16 per cent partner with majority owner Trinidad & Tobago, operates more than 600 weekly flights to 20 destinations in the Caribbean and North and South America.

Responding to demands

"Historically, demand for travel within the Caribbean has been an area identified by our customers for improvement," the company said in responses to Financial Gleaner queries.

"We have responded to the feedback with the competitively priced, Caribbean Explorer fare. This promotion is part of a suite of products being developed and launched by Caribbean Airlines as we execute our strategic objectives, to improve the overall customer experience for our passengers."

The airline also said it has realigned its routes, while asserting that the cost-management measure is already showing results in "CAL's financial performance and EBIT improvement," and that adjustments were made to the frequency and capacity of flights to North American gateways to better align with demand for its services.

Still, CAL declined to provide financial figures to back up the assertion, even while noting that in relation to revenue, the carrier had its best performance for the months of December 2017 and January and February 2018, since 2010.

The airline is also to roll out two other products, 'Caribbean Plus' and 'Caribbean Upgrade', while other initiatives are under development.

Caribbean Plus offers seat preferences for passengers flying economy class, at extra cost, for all Caribbean Airlines destinations, except Trinidad & Tobago. CAL said that on its Boeing 737 jet aircraft, travellers can pre-book and pay for seats in rows 4-10, which offer extra legroom within the economy cabin. On the ATR aircraft, customers can pre-book and pay for seats in rows 15 and 16, which allow for a faster exit on arrival at their destination.

Caribbean Upgrade allows economy class ticket holders to bid for available business class seats.

"All eligible customers will receive a Caribbean Upgrade email seven day prior to departure, inviting them to bid for available business class seats. All passengers who bid will be advised 24 to 28 hours before their scheduled departure whether the bid was successful," CAL said.

Once the winning bid is selected, the passenger's credit card on file will be charged the relevant amount.

The airline said there will be other promotions as the year unfolds, but it also plans to start mining customer information for data to refine its marketing initiatives.

"Caribbean Airlines' commercial strategy is now more data-centric, which will enhance revenue management across all routes. The airline has also begun a technology revamp, which involves collecting customer details from every system that we use, including the Passenger Service System, and using this data to better understand our customer needs, which is integral to drive our customer experience strategy," said the carrier, which also declined to comment on its budgeted capital expenditure for the initiatives.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com