Caribbean Airlines Plans For Aggressive Expansion

Caribbean Airlines ATR 72-600

Caribbean Airlines has grand plans of living true to its name. With the addition of St. Kitts to its route network, the carrier is picking up the slack left by the shell of other Caribbean operators.

St. Kitts Joins Caribbean Airlines Network

On July 24, 2023, Caribbean Airlines launched scheduled service to St. Kitts from Trinidad via Antigua. It marks the first time that the airline has operated regular service to the destination, but this is not an unfamiliar territory as Caribbean’s predecessor BWIA once offered service to the Eastern Caribbean island in its time.

The twice weekly service will be operated with ATR 72-600s, and is expected to increase to three times per week from August 22, 2023.

  • Trinidad (POS) – Antigua (ANU) – St. Kitts (SKB) – Mondays and Fridays (with Tuesday service starting from Starting August 22, 2023)
  • St. Kitts – Antigua – Trinidad – Mondays and Fridays (with Tuesday service starting from Starting August 22, 2023)

Caribbean will also be launching non-stop flights between Barbados and St. Kitts from July 27, with twice weekly service as follows:

  • Barbados (BGI) – St. Kitts (SKB) – Thursdays and Saturdays (Starting July 27, 2023)
  • St Kitts – Barbados – Thursdays and Saturdays

St. Lucia Sees New Pairings

St Lucia Pigeon Island
Photo: Bradley Wint/Gate Checked

St. Lucia is seeing even more service with the launch of four times weekly service between the country’s smaller northerly airport and Barbados. There is clearly a market as InterCaribbean already operates 18 flights between the two islands, with St. Maarten’s Winair joining the party with a weekly Saturday flight from August 19, 2023.

Caribbean’s service (ATR 72-600 operated) is as follows:

  • Barbados (BGI) – St. Lucia (SLU) – Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays
  • St. Lucia – Barbados – Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays

Caribbean will also join the competition between St. Lucia and St. Vincent, adding a once weekly flight alongside InterCaribbean and LIAT. The ATR service is as follows:

  • St. Vincent (SVD) – St. Lucia (SLU) – Thursdays (Starting July 27, 2023)
  • St. Lucia – St. Vincent – Thursdays

Dominica To Antigua Service Starting In August

Passengers can expect stiffer competition on flights between Dominica and Antigua from the later half of August as both Caribbean Airlines and Winair are set to enter the market, each bringing two weekly flights between the islands. This would come in addition to the three weekly flights already operated by LIAT.

Caribbean’s ATR service is as follows:

  • Dominica (DOM) – Antigua (ANU) – Wednesdays and Sundays starting August 23, 2023
  • Antigua – Dominica – Wednesdays and Sundays

More Flights From Trinidad To St. Maarten

Philipsburg Boardwalk, St. Maarten
Photo: Bradley Wint/Gate Checked

With just two flights to St. Maarten from Trinidad (one with a stop in Barbados), more options seem to be coming in late August.

Even though no official announcement has been made yet, two additional non-stop flights have popped up on Caribbean’s schedule. Unlike the current 737 MAX operated flights, these will be ATR-operated, as follows:

  • Trinidad (POS) – St. Maarten (SXM) – Mondays Fridays (Starting August 21, 2023)
  • St. Maarten – Trinidad – Mondays and Fridays

Additional Destinations Planned

Back in May I talked about Caribbean eyeing five new destinations. With one already online, travelers can expect to see at least four me being added within the next year.

In a U.S. Department of Transportation filing dated April 17, 2023, the airline was seeking to fully utilize the scope of its Air Transport Agreement held between the respective governments of the United States and Trinidad and Tobago. At the bottom of their application, they included forecast data for flights to Puerto Rico (SJU) and St. Thomas (STT).

At the ACI Airport Day conference held in Trinidad on July 18, Caribbean Airlines’ CEO Garvin Medera noted that the carrier will be adding French Caribbean territories to its list of destinations, with Martinique and Guadeloupe being the front runners. Service to these islands may start either in late 2023 or early 2024.

He also mentioned that travelers will see greater connectivity within the Eastern Caribbean, with addition focus being put on South America, even though it is not clear yet how far south the airline will expand beyond Guyana.

Major Fleet Expansion Planned

Boeing 737 MAX 8 - 9Y-TTO
Photo: Bradley Wint/Gate Checked

Besides the three recently leased ATR 72-600s, Caribbean Airlines is expected to take advantage of its remaining three 737 MAX 8 options to bring its 737 count to 12. The airline hopes to use these MAXs to increase its international presence as well as support already popular MAX-operated routes.

The carrier is also looking to acquire more ATR 72-600s with the aim of further expanding its regional operations, and is even considering adding five Embraer E-Jets to its lineup. It’s not clear what type will be chosen, but based on the proposed seating capacity, it most likely may be one of the first gen models like the Embraer E175.

With the addition of E-Jets, the MAXs could be better utilized on its longer haul operations.

[Featured Photo: Bradley Wint/Gate Checked ]

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