American Eagle to take flight from Caribbean

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American Eagle to take flight from Caribbean

Unread post by bimjim » Sun Apr 01, 2012

http://www.amsterdamnews.com/news/inter ... f887a.html

American Eagle to take flight from Caribbean
Bevan Springer
Sunday, April 1, 2012

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS

Caribbean tourism stakeholders are deeply concerned about American Airlines’ (AA) decision to suspend operations at its critical Puerto Rico hub while it aims to take off from Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

The local media in San Juan reported this week that AA’s regional affiliate, American Eagle, is planning to suspend its operations in the Caribbean territory by March of next year as it tries to save millions in labor costs.

The good news for northeastern Caribbean destinations is that JetBlue Airways has made a major investment in Puerto Rico and has already started commuter flights between San Juan and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as St. Maarten.

However, the success of Caribbean tourism depends on competition, as carriers will raise fares if they start to enjoy a monopoly on routes. “Get those tickets now, kids,” joked Richard Doumeng, president-elect of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.

Speaking to the local U.S. Virgin Islands media, he said it’s never good when an air partner, especially one of such long standing, leaves the territory, but he believes AA is too large an airline to fail.

Stakeholders across the Caribbean are grateful for the 12-month advanced notice, which gives them a chance to explore options for the major San Juan loss, including, perhaps, positioning another island as a hub for new flights into the Caribbean.

Tourism experts—who will assemble for the 16th annual Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (CHTIC) to address investment opportunities in the Caribbean as well as key issues facing the region—will almost certainly be considering the implications of American Eagle’s exit.

CHTIC, to be held April 24 to 26 at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino in San Juan, Puerto Rico, will feature ministers and directors of tourism as well as senior representatives of investment and banking companies, hotel companies and shared ownership companies.

The panelists will participate in a comprehensive program, providing delegates with the necessary tools for financing tourism investments, including attracting the capital from financial institutions and utilizing partnerships with the public sector. The speakers will highlight ways in which tourism-related businesses in the Caribbean can move forward and grow so they are in the best position to take advantage of the economic recovery.

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