NEW YORK -- BWIA's recently announced intention to launch a tour
operation this spring is another step in a five-year strategic plan
that was designed, in the words of its president, Conrad Aleong,
"to convert a small Caribbean carrier dedicated to indigenous
travel into a carrier with superior service and performance
combined with Caribbean warmth."
The plan does not include a commission cut. The airline pays 6%
Asked about commissions the day after Delta eliminated base pay,
Aleong said BWIA planned no changes. "There would have to be a much
stronger reason to cause us to go down in the U.S. We would have to
be quite worried about survival."
Aleong said the big U.S. airlines have "less need for agencies
than [does] a small carrier like ours. ... Even if everybody goes
to zero, we'll probably still have something."
As for the airline's ongoing makeover, he said the early phases
called for upgraded service, improved on-time performance, enhanced
technology, increased frequencies, more nonstops, and replacement
In interviews here and in Washington, Aleong said the plan also
envisions taking the carrier public in the U.S. in 2004.
Many of the early goals have been met, Aleong said, so that the
61-year-old line offers the most flights and most nonstops to the
the eastern Caribbean -- with meal service, he rushed to point
BWIA serves four North American gateways (Miami, New York,
Toronto and Washington) and code shares with United.
New routes will be added as well: twice-weekly direct flights
from Washington's Dulles to Caracas via Port-of-Spain, Venezuela,
April 11; Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, to Paramaribo,
Surinam, April 15; and Port-of-Spain to Maturin, Venezuela, June
BWIA also is emphasizing to agents its frequent flyer
reciprocity with United, Aleong said. And next winter, BWIA may
join the Carib Sky alliance, of which Liat already is a member.
The airline boasts six 737-800s, all less than 2 years old,
flying to North America, plus five new Dash 8-300s, used for the
short hops in the southern Caribbean. The next step is the addition
of an Airbus A340 in June and a second A340 in December, to replace
L-1011s on U.K. service.
The new tour operation, to roll out April 15, will launch with
rates valid through 2003, Aleong said.
Andrew Compart contributed to this article.