Air Transport World

Carrier with a mission. (BWIA International Airline; includes related article on possible merger)

Carrier with a mission Port of Spain, Trinidad -- The motto of BWIA International is: "We are the Caribean." What that is supposed to mean, in the words of Managing Director and CEO Ian Bertrand, is that the Trinidad-based airline considers itself the primary air carrier in the region and its link with the rest of the world.

But it also means that the carrier, which was formed in 1940 to maintain interisland communications in a sea full of German submarines, has absorbed heavy losses over the years inperforming its regional operations, largely at the behest of the other islands' governments that have no financial stake in BWIA.

And while its owner, the government of Trinidad & Tobago, " believes that there is a need for a strong regional carrier [in the East Caribbean], a responsibility that BWIA has accepted over the years, without support from others," as the dynamic Bertrand noted, there is more to its motives than covering losses.

50th anniversay

Managementof the airline, which celebrated its 50th anniversay in November, believes that sharing BWIA's ownership with other nations in the region, would--among othher things--simplify its negotiations for international routes, particularly those discussions with the U.K.

The pursuit of regional ownership is not new to the thinking of BWIA's ownership. In fact, not long after purchasing the airline from British Overseas Airways Corp. in 1961, the TT government "urged other governments in the region to take shareholdings in BWIA to make it truly the region's carrier."

But BWIA, born British West Indian Airways, is more than the Caribbean. From its headquarters at Piarco International Airport near Port of Spain, BWIA offers service to Miami and New York in the U.S., to Toronto, to Caracas, Georgetown, Guyana and London, Stockholm, FRankfurt, Cologne and Zurich in Europe. And plans are to open additional routes--to Copenhagen, Oslo and Amsterdam. Bertrand also is looking forward to further expansion into the U.S., where a new bilateral agreement gives BWIA access to seven points.

And the governments of Trinidad & Tobago and the U. …

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