KLM extends service to POS through to August 2022
Statistics Show route is outperforming Barbados
Tourism Ministry see rebound in visitors with new flights
Dutch Airline KLM has decided to extend its service between Holland and Port of Spain as it is encouraged by the number and variety of passengers flying between Holland and T&T.
Following the decision to re-start the route for the winter season 2021-2022 from Amsterdam to Trinidad KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has decided to extend the service into the summer months starting March 27 and ending in August 2022.
Data from Sabre’s Market intelligence show that while initially, the route was shared with Barbados, for this additional service, the flight will originate from Schipol Amsterdam, onto St Maarten instead of Barbados and then to Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Representatives from KLM have indicated that since its inception, the route into Port-of-Spain, Trinidad has been performing satisfactorily well at a load factor of 75 per cent.
“Detailed preliminary airline data validates this performance and shows that Trinidad actually outperformed Barbados with more passengers coming into Piarco International Airport than into Grantley Adams International Airport,” the report noted.
From October 21 to the end of November, 1777 passengers arrived at Trinidad from Amsterdam while only 965 passengers stopped off in Barbados. There was also another telling discovery. The point of origin or type of passengers travelling to both islands were vastly different. While passengers to Barbados were from Western and Eastern Europe to the tune of 86 per cent. Trinidad arrivals, however had 75 per cent from Western and Eastern Europe, and the data shows that passengers came from countries such as India, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Philippines, and Hong Kong.
Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell said, “We are thrilled with the news of KLM extending its service into Port-of-Spain into the summer months as it now gives us the opportunity to make longer term plans. We will now look at doing some activations within the Dutch market with tour operators, media and Dutch locals as well as diaspora who we will target to come to Trinidad and Tobago.
The news of this service being renewed beyond March speaks to the excellent performance of the route.” Minister Mitchell continued, “We want our local tour operators to get ready, because we are going to bring Dutch visitors, along with other Europeans and Asians to you to show off the best that Trinidad and Tobago has to offer.”
KLM’s advanced bookings are also reported to be encouraging as it shows passengers from India, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, France and across Europe booking in their numbers to come to Trinidad from January to March 2022. The KLM flight is particularly advantageous to T&T as the Schipol hub in Amsterdam is the third busiest airport in Europe in terms of number of passengers and the busiest in Europe in terms of number of aircraft movements.
Mitchell said this service generates numerous opportunities for marketing T&T to alternative source markets and widening its visitor catchment areas.
Since the reopening of our borders on July 17, 2021, several airlines have returned to the destination and are helping to kick start the revitalisation of the tourism sector according to the Tourism Ministry.
The ministry noted that several major airlines that previously serviced routes into both Piarco International Airport in Trinidad and ANR Robinson International Airport in Tobago, prior to the temporary closure of T&T’s borders, have signalled dates for their return and new airlines have shown an acute interest in coming to destination Trinidad and Tobago.
“Key to the tourism recovery effort is a robust route development strategy that helps the destination target the specific demographic of visitors and transport them from the source markets from where they reside. Trinidad and Tobago is distinctive in the region as each island brings with it a different experience. This gives us the unique ability to cater to varying visitor tastes and this certainly sets us apart,” the ministry noted in a statement to the Business Guardian.
The spread of passengers from across Europe and also Asia establishes opportunities for introducing a more diverse set of visitors into Trinidad and also for Tobago to benefit as Europe is the island’s main visitor source market the ministry noted.
It pointed to data from the Central Statistical Office that shows in 2019 approximately 30 per cent of all visitors from Europe came for leisure purPort-of-Spaines, whilst 15 per cent came for business. Notably, 22 per cent appear to be diaspora as this is classified as VFR or Visiting Friends and Relatives.
As far as visitors coming from India, which is the second source of passengers coming from KLM, Business or Convention visitors accounted for 23 per cent of these arrivals whilst leisure visitors accounted for 8 per cent in 2019. Therefore, the route has benefited not only KLM as a business case, but also the destination as far as the potential number of visitors that are expected to come to the islands, Sabre’s Market Intelligence noted.
The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts said at this time it is fielding a number of requests for flights into Trinidad and Tobago from Europe and North America.
“Some of these are charters that will provide visitors with additional options to enjoy all that Trinidad and Tobago has to offer. Charters offer a customisable service that the destination can manage and market to the best visitor segments that will drive both visitor arrivals and generate significant revenue for not only the destination and tourism operators.
With the ministry’s new festival development and sport tourism thrusts, the destination can use these flights for large scale sporting events, conferences and concert type events. The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts continues to work with Airports Authority on its route development strategy to ensure the right airlines are accommodated in both islands.” the Ministry told the Business Guardian.
Tobago also stands to benefit from this increased traffic as the ministry has been pushing the dual destination concept in its plans and messaging to stakeholders.
Mitchell said, “There is a definite benefit for Tobago with airlift coming into Trinidad as it is an easy sell for visitors to come into Trinidad from Europe and North America and connect quickly to Tobago. In anticipation of this, in October I hosted a meeting with Airports Authority, Caribbean Airlines, Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd (TTAL) and other key stakeholders to ensure that passengers have a seamless transition from international to domestic flights.”
Along with the Airports Authority of T&T, the ministry is on a drive to enhance the entire airport experience to ensure that visitors not only feel welcome but will also be able to move quickly through Piarco and catch connecting flights to Tobago. The KLM flight was of particular interest because it is coming out of Europe which is of particular interest to Tobago.
As one destination but two islands, the ministry felt the need to enhance the attractiveness of the destination by ensuring that Tobago was also part of any conversation. Therefore, Dutch and other European visitors are being facilitated with easier access to Tobago through Caribbean Airlines connections.
Most routes into Trinidad have since reopened while in Tobago, Virgin Airlines is due to return to the island on January 29 and British Airways restarted its service to ANR Robinson International on January 10.
For Trinidad, most airlines have maintained their services out of North America and Europe. American Airlines, United Airlines, Jet Blue, Air Canada, WestJet, and British Airways have all resumed their service to Piarco Trinidad and join KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.