A new airline, Trans Island Air 2000, has begun operations at George F.L. Charles airport at Vigie. On Monday, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet announced that the airline will operate flights to Grenada, Barbados, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica, and eventually to Martinique.
The official launch of TIA 2000 had been scheduled for June 14, 2017 at the Bay Gardens Hotel, with Prime Minister Allan Chastanet and TIA 2000 CEO, Bruce Kaufman, however, inclement weather conditions grounded several officials in Barbados, including Barbadian Minister of Commerce, Industry, International Business and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, prompting the cancellation of the press conference.
In use are Beech King Air and the Beech 99 aircraft , with plans to add a Twin Otter (DHC-6) to the fleet sometime before September 2017.
The airline was founded in 1982 as Trans Island Air (TRD, Bridgetown) by Barbadian businessman Bernie Weatherhead who later sold the carrier’s assets to current owner Bruce Kaufman who rebranded it as Trans Island Air 2000. At that time, it operated a mixed fleet including Islanders, Rockwell Aero Commanders, a DHC-6 Twin Otter, and an Embraer EMB-110.
On the eve of TIA 2000’s launch in early June, Barbados Minister of Tourism said LIAT operates at a loss in some 60 percent of the destinations to which it travels and said it survives only because of support of some regional governments.
It has been argued for many years if LIAT is ever to make money or stay out of bankruptcy, it needs to off load its “social routes” to smaller operators. The region badly needs smaller turboprop operators (DHC-6, Beech 1900D) to supplement and compliment LIAT’s fleet where and when demand is below profitability, it only makes sense.
But with island governments owning airports (which they want to make profitable), owning LIAT (which they also want to make profitable), and having created the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) is there any doubt that competition will be stifled and that startup airlines in the region will have started at a gross disadvantage? The aviation industry within the sub-region is doomed to remain in its current LIAT dominated dilemma simply because of this convoluted game of multiple conflicts of interest.
After the press launch Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sarah Flood Beaubrun, and OECS Ambassador Elma Gene Isaac boarded a TIA flight to Grenada where they will attend the Thirty-Eighth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) from July 4th to July 6th 2017.
A fare and route comparison on LIAT and TIA’s websites: