Prime Minister David Thompson??(FP)????

During his just concluded week-long visit to the United Kingdom (UK), Prime Minister David Thompson held productive meetings with the leaders of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airlines, Willie Walsh and Steve Ridgway, respectively.????

At these meetings, the two Chief Executives stressed how important Barbados was to their businesses and confirmed that the load factors to the island were positive.

They also noted that the close working relationship between their companies and the Barbados Tourism Authority was an important contributor to this success.

Mr. Thompson said he found it very useful to meet with the Chief Executives of the UK’s two primary airlines, who were unequivocal in their support for Barbados and the scheduled flights to the island.

"It is encouraging to hear how important we are to their business, particularly during these challenging economic times, when airlines need to look at the viability of every route they fly. I look forward to Barbados continuing productive partnerships with both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic," the Prime Minister stated.

During the talks, both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic indicated that they were looking to increase revenue on the Barbados route. British Airways currently has seven flights a week to Barbados, which should be increased to 10 direct flights from early November; while Virgin Atlantic has a daily service from Gatwick and a weekly one from Manchester.

Messrs. Walsh and Ridgway also applauded the Prime Minister’s continued campaign against the UK Government’s proposals to increase Air Passenger Duty. These proposals will require passengers to pay a higher tax to fly to Barbados than those travelling to all US destinations, despite the fact that those destinations are thousands of miles further away.

The CEOs confirmed their airlines’ long-term plans to increase capacity to Barbados, once they received new planes that are on order.

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