As the business of online shopping continues to expand with newer options popping up almost daily, LIAT said this has been having a negative impact on regional travel for the company.
LIAT’s Chief Executive Officer Julie Reifer-Jones said the impact on passenger travel means an impact on the airline’s finances.
She explained, “A lot of the travel within the region that was focused on going to San Juan to shop, for example, there is less of that. So, the traffic flows and the behaviour of our passengers are changing and we have to make adjustments in the market to reflect the changes that are taking place.”
Reifer-Jones did not provide numbers in terms of the drop in passenger
travel, but LIAT’s outgoing Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Lloyd Carswell gave some perspective on the situation.
And, he also made the point that because some markets have dwindled, LIAT has been forced to make pragmatic decisions to avoid bleeding financially by dropping the routes or reducing the number of flights.
He explained, “St Croix has been a very poor route, it is very, very seasonal as in three or four weeks a year and it isn’t because LIAT damaged the route. St Thomas is not a travesty, it is more of an operational issue…it is a very strong seasonal market but that’s it. San Juan, the market has changed. The number of passengers travelling is still quite high but it is a very low yearly market.”
Carswell said another issue is that it is cheaper to fly to New York and to shop there than it is to go to San Juan. This, in addition to people shopping online more, further compounds the situation.