“Which Should Come First: Passengers Or Aircrafts?”
by Terrance Rey
In the July 2013 issue of AirStMaarten newsletter, I expressed the need for a Caribbean-wide charter operator and explained my dream of how to achieve this…. By creating a network of travel agencies throughout the Caribbean that can serve as feeders for this charter operator.
Coincidentally, as I am busy writing this article, I get a phone call from a client. They have a group of 16 passengers stuck in Antigua due to a LIAT cancellation. We don’t have immediate access to a 19-seater aircraft in the region that we can use, so that means we have to use two 9-seater aircrafts to execute this charter.
In last month’s issue, I also wrote that presently, here in the Caribbean availability of commercial and charter airline capacity to airlift twenty (20) or more passengers at a time is very limited. Using two 9-seater aircrafts instead of one aircraft that can carry these 16 passengers is cost-prohibitive. If the client does not have a choice, they will pay the price. But it is not the ideal solution.
So again we get confirmation that there is a need for a charter operator with aircrafts in this category. However, I would not like to take the risk of creating such a charter operation with these type of aircrafts without being certain we can get business on a consistent basis to make it financially viable. Therefore, the strategy to consolidate a network of travel agencies that has the volume to fill these aircrafts is the prefered route I choose to take.
In July 2013, Dutch Antilles Express (DAE), a Curacao-based airline operator that also flies to St. Maarten, was declared bankrupt. From its inception, this airline company has been plaqued with financial problems. It has forever been caught in a ‘chicken and egg’ situation. Which should come first? The aircrafts or the passengers? In other words, should you create the demand or create the supply first?
Columnist, entrepreneur and philantropist, Jacob Gelt Dekker, owner of Hotel Kura Hulanda in Curacao wrote a column as a result of the demise of DAE and pose this question of demand and supply in his column “Fields of Dreams“, which I have published here on this website as well.
However, in my logbook the answer to this question of which should come first, passengers or aircraft, is very simple: passengers should always comes first. It is the guaranteed route to profitabililty for any airline or charter operator.
Terrance Rey is owner and operator of AirStMaarten, Caribbean’s first virtual airline based in St. Maarten; organizing and coordinating commercial flights, shared charters and private charters to and from St. Maarten, St. Barths, Anguilla, Antigua, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao and throughout the rest of the Caribbean.
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