Virgin end winter flights to Tobago?

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Julian
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Virgin end winter flights to Tobago?

Post by Julian » Mon Dec 16, 2013 1:54 am

No flights to Tobago on Virgin website for next winter.

I instant messaged a Virgin representative on the Virgin Atlantic bookings portal (a couple of weeks ago) who said there would be flights, but you can't currently book any as the booking hadn't opened but it would in a week (it hasn't).

This is strange as you can book the same flight to St Lucia (Tobago is currently via St Lucia) on Tuesdays and Saturdays in November but not if you enter Tobago as a destination.

Wonder if there is a stand-off with Virgin pushing for additional subsidies?


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Re: Virgin end winter flights to Tobago?

Post by Carol G » Mon Dec 16, 2013 5:13 am

Hi Julian,
Interesting....as we happened to be at the airport last Tuesday when the first Virgin flight for the winter was returning to Gatwick. Spoken to one of the stewardess...who indicated not a lot of people on the flight coming or going (those who were on flight maybe had wonderful service)..at least 8-10 ready stewards/ess waiting to board. Maybe besides Sir Richard being greedy; no one is coming to fill up his planes.
Cheers, Carol

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Re: Virgin end winter flights to Tobago?

Post by Paul Tallet » Mon Dec 16, 2013 8:05 pm

I posted about this last year when Virgin cancelled my flight in June/July and they switched me to BA.

To be honest, the interest in Tobago from the UK has dropped and the BA flight we took was about 80% bound for Antigua and the remaining 20% of us trundled off in Tobago which was good because we got through customs very quickly.

I feel that credit should be given to BA for trying their best to continue their service to Tobago and being flexible and so I have no complaints about the minor inconvenience of sitting on the plane for an extra hour in Antigua.

BA have won a better market share in the Tobago service as a result. I loved it when I found out the price of our flights with BA were £200 higher than what we paid Virgin for their record low prices ... and Virgin had to foot the bill for 6 of us last June ... £1,200. There was some minor inconvenience with the changed dates though. Did Virgin apologise?

I used to use Virgin as a first choice but they have cancelled flights or changed schedules (dates) on me twice now ... they are UNRELIABLE.

Virgin also seemed to do most of the package holidays to Tobago and I hear that there was a bit of a stand-off between Virgin and Tobago over subsidies etc (as if Tobago was going to be held to ransom by a greedy bearded entrepenour that I will not mention) ... I am glad if Tobago stood it's ground.

So it seemed inevitable that Virgin could pull out altogether. Even though they service many other destinations in the Caribbean they have not got the nous to to see how Tobago can fit into the flight equations or they are just not getting their own way with the THA.

A reduction in the Virgin package tours will also do true Tobago Tourism the world of good ... more of the revenue will go to Tobago people and not to other greedy conglomerates that practice their business outside of Tobago, dealing with companies like Virgin on a different level, sucking the poor island dry.

In my opinion, Virgin do not have the best interests of Tobago in their business plan, not to mention a load of other things that I will not bang on about in this forum.

Also ... a new service has started operating from Europe (I think it is Sweden ... please correct me if wrong) and their first flight was welcomed last week with much trumpeting. At least Tobago Tourism is diversifying it's target markets, if nothing else.

So ... I hope that Virgin's actions prompt Tobago visitors to have a good hard look at their options and decide whether they want to be in Tobago ... or just Crown Point.

Tobago does not need Virgin.

I rest my case m'lud :)

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Re: Virgin end winter flights to Tobago?

Post by Ronald » Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:05 pm

Hi Paul,

Yes, there´s flight from Sweden to Tobago now, by Apollo, a direct flight! I did see the flight last week. They told me the flight time was 11 hours, Stockholm-Arlanda Airport to Tobago-A.N.R Airport. I believe Apollo is using Lingus Air for this service.

But it is not only Sweden, it has visitors from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. One week the flight start from Sweden, next week it start from Denmark. There are of course connections to the other countries, on the same ticket.

I have met some of them at Store Bay Beach, and they told me that the flight were very good. They did not miss the terrible weather in Sweden, with one storm after an other, snow and broken electric lines for some 30,000 when it was at worst.

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Re: Virgin end winter flights to Tobago?

Post by Paul Tallet » Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:41 pm

Hi Ronald

I can see why everyone from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark would be a good market for Tobago ... it's sooo cold in those countries in the winter and Tobago must be a blessed place to warm your bones but not by the fire!!

Sorry to hear the flights were not too good.

Thank you for confirming it ... I read it somewhere a week ago and, as I grow older, my brain is becoming more selective :wink:

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Re: Virgin end winter flights to Tobago?

Post by Ronald » Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:11 pm

Hi again

"Sorry to hear the flights were not too good", what!??
The flight was very good according to the peoples I was talking about, it doesn´t have to be a UK-flight to be a good one. Or does your growing age sometimes make problems for you re reading/spelling/writing?

The cold, well it´s a big different between the southern part of Sweden and the north. I´m born and grow up in the north in what is called Sub Artic Zone, so peoples who live up there get custom to the cold and the snow. The coldest I have been into was in the early 60s when me and my father did máke ice-roads for timber trucks, the temp did drop down to -36C for some days.

But now a days I prefer the tropic climate during winter and I spend the summer in Uppsala-Stockholm.
Right now we start getting nice sunny weather here, few showers, but the sea is rough on the east side, but that also affect the Caribbean side of course.

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Re: Virgin end winter flights to Tobago?

Post by Paul Tallet » Tue Dec 17, 2013 2:45 pm

There you are Ronald ... you are quite right ... it's age and selective reading !!

Sorry I misread your post :oops:

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Re: Virgin end winter flights to Tobago?

Post by Ronald » Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:09 pm

Well Paul, we all make things wrong sometimes..reading one thing but writing something else..

If you will be in Crown Point sometimes when you are here, I´ll buy you some beers, just send me a tex
Phone:392-5766

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Re: Virgin end winter flights to Tobago?

Post by Paul Tallet » Wed Dec 18, 2013 9:16 pm

Will do Sir.

I will be there plenty times :D

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Re: Virgin end winter flights to Tobago?

Post by Julian » Tue Dec 24, 2013 4:01 pm

http://www.thetobagonews.com/news/Trans ... 11971.html

Sounds like Virgin aren't playing ball with the THA or vice versa - not a good situation for Tobago or visitors as ticket prices will rise with a fall in capacity and the hoteliers and apartments with have a harder time filling their beds.

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Re: Virgin end winter flights to Tobago?

Post by Glyn Kirpalani » Fri Dec 27, 2013 6:33 pm

I was there 10 years ago amidst the crowds to meet the first Virgin Jumbo and to shake Branson's hand. We were all so excited to see him leaning out of the cockpit window, waving the union jack. He and Orville London made grand speeches, and it emerged that Virgin had agreed to commence flights on condition that a sparkling new international terminal (with Upper Class pax lounge facilities) would be built within a year or so. After 10 years of nothing-ness in this regard from the THA and endless excuses for the nothing-ness, my guess is that Virgin won't stand for their bull anymore and has bent over enough for the island. I dare say they might return one day if the sparkling new terminal is ever built - I for one shall not be holding my breath

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Re: Virgin end winter flights to Tobago?

Post by Paul Tallet » Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:39 pm

Hi Glyn

I wasn't aware of that and it makes some sense.

In some ways I am glad the terminal was not upgraded ... it is obviously a nightmare for 400+ arriving off a single plane to get through the customs.

If the THA had honoured their promise I sense that Tobago would have been turned into a Theme Park by now.

Nothing much seems to have changed, tourism is down, but I think the resorts are suffering more than the small businesses judging by the ghostly appearances of the Rex, Grand Courlan and Coco ... they look empty ... but Tobago looks great.

I read with interest plans to build another 2 Hotels over the next 2 years and wonder where the business is going to come from. The THA are applauding themselves for the new flights in from Scandinavia but I think they need more than that.

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Re: Virgin end winter flights to Tobago?

Post by Glyn Kirpalani » Sun Dec 29, 2013 3:51 pm

I think the joy at the new Scandawegian arrivals is because, supposedly/allegedly, these folk are more adventurous and will tolerate more "grungy"-eco-economy type accommodations, of which Tobago has plenty. But for those airlines/tour operators and tourists looking for upmarket stays, then new fresh stock will be a bonus.

While I agree that Tobago is better for not becoming a "theme park" as you put it Paul, I do think that much more tourism and consequent employment and wages for the locals will be needed in future to slowly replace the fading incomes from fossil fuels, which are basically funding all the make-work schemes for the people to live by. With the falling gas prices, ultimately the central government will have no money to pay the people with the various make work schemes, and the last thing Tobago needs is a rise in crime caused by extreme poverty. Ideally there will be a slow and gradual increase in tourist arrivals to replace the falling state-employment incomes, in order to maintain a degree of social stability in both islands - but just as with the new terminal, we may see flying pigs landing at the airport before we see a large increase in arrivals of humans

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Re: Virgin end winter flights to Tobago?

Post by Paul Tallet » Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:47 am

Hmmm ... I have noticed a decrease in UK tourists and an increase in Scandinavian and Eastern European tourists.

I believe that the recession in the UK is partly to blame for the decline in UK tourists.

Not sure where the credit is due for the new Scandinavian link but I guess the THA will be milking it.

The big Hotels are mostly empty with only sea-facing rooms occupied ... business looks good for the independent trade including guesthouses, restaurants. I cannot understand how 2 more large Hotels are being planned over the next 2 years ... You need the Virgin service to fill them. Not Monarch or BA ( BA now drop 300 UK tourists in Antigua and then 30 or so in Tobago).

I believe that Tobago is not really suited for the 5 star brigade ... it could not be like Barbados ... the road network and general geography would make it very difficult to support such a trade.

Business is booming for the independents ... but not for those that overcharge and try to take advantage by charging 4/5 star rates for a 2/3 star service, whether it be trips, accommodation or food services.

I think this is a very good time for the independent businesses to take the opportunity while it lasts and go for the long term and not rip tourists off in the short term because they simply won't come back or they will make their own provisions as I do.

Spam on toast is lovely :mrgreen:

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Re: Virgin end winter flights to Tobago?

Post by Ronald » Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:34 pm

I can only agree with Paul. The hotels, which now having a hard time, they need tourists who ONLY spend their vacations into a hotel area, and the majority of Scandinavians are not like that.
In the 60s and 70s when they really started travel when on vacation, they wanted hotels as they wanted to have a relaxed time, never had to go out to search for a restautant, but time is different now.

Many travel agencies in Scandinavia now a days do not offer just a stay on a hotel, swimming pool a.s.o., they also offer Gym, Training, Long-walking a.s.o., as a the majority of the scandinavians no longer want to spend the whole vacation on a hotel. They want more, exercise, trips into the forrest and so on.
After all, they only spend a few hours per day on the hotel, they are mostly somewhere else. So why pay a lot for an expensive accomondation when you can have a more simple one and get a lot of money left for doing what you really want to do and see when on vacation?

Many scandinavians also have a summer-house at home, that can be an older house once belonging to their grandpa or similars, or and old farm house where they only can stay during summertime, running water in the house but no toilets, just a simply "dry-toilet" in a small hut outside. Primitive but may of us like that during summertime.

As they than live there from time to time, they drink many different types local water from local wells, so mostly scandinavians doesn´t have problem with drinking local water when abroad. It´s only when Turkey, Egypt, and some other smaller places in Europe one have to be careful. Myself drink local water here, Trinidad, St Vincente & the Grenadines, Barbados and Antigua. I have no problems what so ever.

So it the big hotels want to fill their empty rooms, they must reach an other type of visitors, more peoples from UK and US who only want to stay at 4/5 stars hotel. They go there and than they go home and say "I´ve seen Tobago" even if they only have seen the garden and the swimmingpool area and maybe a tour by boat at sea or a small rainforrest tour.

Smaller places will always find guests, they doesn´t have the same problems as hotels have. These hotels also have to search for locals who can give services the guests ecpects from a 4/5 star hotel, and they aren´t easy to find inTobago!

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Re: Virgin end winter flights to Tobago?

Post by Julian » Tue Jan 28, 2014 3:45 pm

Can't find any other evidence to confirm but Virgin have stated that they will resume flights to Tobago between 15th January to 28th March 2015 (seems strange to miss out on the busy Christmas period). Can anyone else confirm this?

Julian

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