Caribbean Airlines was incorporated in the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago on 27 September 2006, beginning flight operations on 01 January 2007 with 128 weekly departures to 10 markets operating five Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Caribbean Airlines initiated simplified one-way fares inclusive of taxes and fees that provided flexible fare combinations and extended stay options. The new fare program also featured a permanent discounted fare, senior citizen discounts and no change fees for students. We launched a Web check-in feature allowing passengers to check in for flights and print boarding passes from the comfort of their homes, offices or anywhere with an internet connection.
Setting the pace for its future, Caribbean Airlines operated 93.9% of its flights on time during its begin operational phase through February 2007, surpassing the aviation industry on-time performance standard of 85% and the airline’s January 2007 average of 92%. Caribbean Airlines also exceeded industry standards with an impressive lost baggage rate of 0.7 for January (less than one bag lost per thousand passengers) and 1 bag per thousand for February 2007.
Caribbean Airlines’ codeshare with British Airways took effect with a codeshare flight between Port of Spain, Trinidad and London Gatwick International Airport in March 2007. The codeshare allowed Caribbean Airlines to continue to sell London connections to our passengers. To meet increased travel demand for major regional events during March and April (including Cricket World Cup and Tobago Jazz Festival), Caribbean Airlines added a Boeing 737-800 aircraft and 100 extra flights to its schedule. The enhanced schedule included special charters to St. Kitts, Bermuda and Grenada, and exemplified Caribbean Airlines’ commitment to its customers.
To unite the staff around the new Caribbean Airlines brand and customer service standards, the airline launched Caribbean Airlines Brand Camp. Employees appointed as Brand Ambassadors carried messages of superior service elements that make Caribbean Airlines unique and admired.
We initiated customer service monitoring programmes to measure and benchmark our airline’s customer satisfaction in all areas from reservations to onboard service. Our average overall customer service rating in 2007 was an impressive 81%. The airline’s Caribbean Miles loyalty programme featured a seamless transfer of miles from the BWIA programme. At its start, the airline recorded 128,734 Caribbean Miles members, by the end of June, the number had risen to 136,789 members proving the airline’s growing loyalty base.
In July 2007 Caribbean Airlines became the first airline in the region to launch an initiative to provide sustainable air travel with the CarbonNeutral® programme. In partnership with the CarbonNeutral Company, Caribbean Airlines offered passengers the opportunity to offset airline carbon emissions by investing in eco-friendly projects. Caribbean Airlines opened its new 2,000 square-foot sales and ticket office at Nicholas Tower, Independence Square, Port-of-Spain, featuring state-of-the-art technology such as internet kiosks for ticket booking and online check-in, in August of 2007, and two months later, purchased the remaining shares of Tobago Express. Along with acquiring the carrier’s people and 5 Dash-8 aircraft, Caribbean Airlines also assumed the responsibility of air bridge service between Trinidad and Tobago.
In the latter part of its maiden year, Caribbean Airlines added more than a dozen flight attendants from throughout the Caribbean region to its ranks. The recruitment from other CARICOM nations showed the airline’s commitment to being the airline for the whole of the Caribbean. Showing its flexibility and commitment to meeting regional travel needs, Caribbean Airlines also leased an additional Boeing 737-800 to increase the number of flights to its markets to provide more options for our customers to gather with family and friends around the world.
By the end of 2007, the airline solidified itself as the corner stone for region aviation and the success of the airline was evident in its continual growth. In early 2008, Caribbean Airlines inaugurated daily service to Caracas, Venezuela. The new daily return flight was the first network expansion since the airline started operating on January 1st 2007. This led to the introduction of a daily service to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and we became the only regionally based airline with the most direct services from Trinidad to South Florida. This growth was also complemented by significant costs savings and increase quality control with the in-sourcing of heavy maintenance for the airline’s fleet.
Presently Caribbean Airlines serves 16 markets in the Caribbean, South America and North America, operating a core schedule of 530 weekly departures with a fleet of 21 aircraft. Caribbean Airlines acquired routes operated by Air Jamaica on 26 May 2011, and currently employs 1, 124 employees with the Air Jamaica headcount at 650.