BARBADOS: Airport to reopen next week

(BARBADOS TODAY) – Several of Barbados’ major airline partners have already confirmed they will be first out the gates come next week when commercial flights are scheduled to return to the tourism dependent island.

According to a draft airline schedule for summer 2020 for the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA), which was last updated on Saturday, June 13, Jetblue, Air Canada, Caribbean Airlines and British Airways are to be the first passenger flights to resume passenger service at the reopening of the airport.

Barbados TODAY understands that Bridgetown is yet to receive confirmation from Virgin Atlantic and regional carrier LIAT, among others.

With Government’s indication that the GAIA will be reopened next Wednesday to commercial flights, a proposal was to be presented to Cabinet for the approval on Thursday.

It is understood that today’s talks also focused on the protocols to be employed for tourists coming to the country.

According to the schedule British Airways has already confirmed that from July 18 to 31, it will arrive at the GAIA from London Gatwick every Tuesday and Saturday, and depart Bridgetown for London every Wednesday and Sunday. That airline’s summer schedule is expected to last through to October 24.

JetBlue is expected to have several flights to Barbados from JFK during July while Air Canada has indicated it will have scores of flights from Toronto to Bridgetown from July to October.

Schedules for American Airlines were not readily available, but a check with the airline showed that tickets were being processed for service starting in July.

While regional travel began this month, only Caribbean Airlines has so far confirmed commercial flights to Barbados.

The airline schedule revealed that the Trinidad and Tobago-based carrier will have several direct and connecting flights throughout July, August, September and October.

It is not yet clear when LIAT will resume service to Bridgetown, but in a notice at the end of last month, the airline had announced that it had suspended service until June 30, “due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

At the time, Chief Executive Officer of the airline Julie Reifer-Jones had indicated that the airline was closely monitoring developments across its network and would resume flights “when it is safe” to do so.

She said while some territories had announced a reopening date, there were still many protocols to be implemented, such as testing and mandatory quarantine periods which would allow for the safe movement of passengers.

Last week Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Senator Rudy Grant first announced that several airlines had already confirmed flights for July when the island’s airport reopened to commercial flights.

He indicated then that WestJet could resume service by November/December.

Grant said: “With the UK carriers, while there are some expectations that they will come possibly in July, there are discussions being undertaken through the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. with respect to what type of support can be provided and realistically what level of airlift we can expect coming out of the UK.”

Grant said other airlines were expected to resume service by December.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has implemented a home quarantine policy for passengers arriving on flights which originate in parts of the Caribbean and other similar low-risk countries of origin.

That policy went into effect last Saturday afternoon with the arrival of 15 passengers on a Caribbean Airlines flight with mostly students from the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus in Jamaica and St Augustine Campus in Trinidad.

The policy includes the immediate swabbing of passengers on arrival, interviewing and briefing on the requirements for home quarantine, which include confinement to their residence and daily monitoring for symptoms by public health officers for 14 days.