[Commentary] Tourism Matters: Tourism is mostly about people
April 4, 2016
While I would not dream of depriving any ‘worker’ of their fundamental right to withdraw their labour, in the interest of humanity one has to question the timing. Tourism is mostly about people and how the various contributing players interact and respond to each other.
Often the first or last person encountered on a visit can make the difference whether or not that person returns to our shores.
Uncertainty helps create chaos and I wonder if any dollar value has been put on the loss of revenue throughout the industry caused by the short lived but damaging strike action at the airport and seaport on the 24th March.
While government ultimately controls the ability to settle long standing industrial issues in the public sector, once again it is the private sector and individual travellers who pay the price of inaction or at the very least the tardiness in settling these issues.
LIAT alone reportedly cancelled ten flights and, while a proportion of passengers will re-book, they cannot fill all those unused seats twice on another day, so the losses are almost unrecoverable.
Likewise, the delays impact negatively on the legacy and low cost carriers, where crew timings are often crucial to profitable operation.
When an aircraft cost US$100 million or more to purchase or that amount is reflected in lease payments, carriers cannot afford to have prolonged period of inactive planes on the ground or delayed at the point of departure, pending the airport re-opening.
I graphically remember a journalist asking one of the largest coach operators in Britain, Len Wright, where he kept all his vehicles, he responded simply, “On the road.”
My wife flew out on that same day and her Thomas Cook aircraft flew down empty from Orlando deliberately delaying departure to arrive after initially announcing a 6pm air traffic control re-commencing time.
In an Airlines for America report, it was estimated that United States carriers alone in 2014 had an average cost per block minute of US$81.18 per plane or a mind boggling US$9.149 billion extra cost across their members in that year alone.
For European Union registered airlines there are of course relatively generous compensation payments for passengers experiencing delayed flights of more than three hours, subject to the journey distance which dictates the amount.
As an example a flight from a London airport to Faro in Southern Portugal which is over 1,500 kilometres or 1,000 miles and is delayed more than three hours, the flyer would be eligible for a refund of Euro 400 per person.
But this is subject to all sorts of conditions and in this case unless the airlines were aware of a potential air traffic controllers strike, this would not be covered.
Clearly some airlines often quote ‘extraordinary circumstances’ to try and avoid rightful and lawful compensation, but this has only spurred a vast array of companies specialising in obtaining legitimate claims for individuals on a commission basis. Most offer a guarantee of a qualifying rebate on a commission basis or no fee is payable.
As my wife should have been on a Faro bound flight last Monday and her plane was delayed first by seven hours and then cancelled altogether.
This led to two days’ loss of hotel, a journey across London to another airport, new airline tickets and an overnight Gatwick stay among other unplanned expenditure.
EasyJet, the airline involved, offered absolutely no assistance other than a £3 ‘refreshment’ voucher, so we are going to ‘challenge the system’ and will report back in a couple of weeks.
- Adrian Loveridge has spent 46 years in the tourism industry across 67 countries, as a travel agent, tour director, tour operator and for the last 24 years as a small hotel owner on Barbados. He served as a director of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, and as chairman of the Marketing Committee. He also served as a director of the Barbados Tourism Authority and is a frequent writer on tourism issues