Automotive and Aviation Services

October 28th, 2022

Caribbean Aviation Trends to Watch

By Bavina Sookdeo

Automotive Pivoting towards electromobility

Gavin Medera
Chief Executive Officer
Caribbean Airlines Limited

Caribbean Airlines (CAL) has emerged as a dominant force in the regional airline industry, connecting the Caribbean seamlessly and sustainably. Garvin Medera, CEO, Caribbean Airlines Limited, expands, “CAL aims to maintain its leadership position in the next five years by investing in new aircraft, expanding its route network, and providing innovative services. Furthermore, we acknowledge the importance of sustainability, customer accessibility, and inclusion in our strategic vision.” Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Medera is optimistic about the future of the regional airline industry.

Recovery and expansion in the regional market

CAL’s strategic focus on enhancing network connectivity aligns well with the anticipated recovery and the Caribbean region’s resurgence as a popular tourist destination. Regarding the industry’s demand, Medera pointed out that CAL anticipates continued steady recovery over the next five years, with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) projecting a 3% average passenger growth rate. By adapting to new customer preferences and expectations, the airline aims to exceed the projected growth rate by positioning itself as a preferred travel supplier. According to IATA the Latin American region’s growth has been revised upwards, as shown below, reflecting a strong recovery in some countries and international markets within the Americas and between Europe and the Americas.

Maintaining dominance on traditional regional routes is a priority for CAL. Medera states, “We aim to continuously raise standards, expand our network, and integrate customer feedback to improve services. The company has upgraded its fleet to smaller planes and introduced fuel-efficient B737-8 aircraft. We will continue investing in enhancing convenience, connectivity, and customer satisfaction within the regional market.”

CAL’s expansion strategy includes the addition of new routes that cater to evolving passenger demands. While routes are generally announced closer to the launch, Medera emphasised the airline’s commitment to meeting the region’s needs by providing new services over the next five years. Offering convenient point-to-point journeys, the airline envisions the Caribbean as a connecting hub to the Americas and beyond. Furthermore, it aims to leverage ‘Big Data’, manpower planning, digital connectivity, and customer service improvements to expand its overall offerings.

Bleisures and workations: let’s go!

“Business traffic is recovering, although virtual meetings have replaced a portion of corporate travel. We acknowledge that there is a need to remind businesses of the value of in-person meetings for relationship building and successful business transactions,” Medera explains. The airline understands that meeting the higher standards set by business travellers, such as improved health and safety measures and reduced queueing, is crucial to improving the convenience of travel. Leisure travel is expected to remain popular over the next five years. “The Caribbean region’s attractiveness as a tourist destination, with its scenic landscapes, vibrant culture, and diverse recreational activities, makes it conducive for travellers to extend their business trips to leisure experiences. Additionally, as work-life balance and employee well-being become increasingly valued, professionals are actively seeking opportunities to blend business obligations with leisure opportunities,” Medera observes. “New trends, such as ‘bleisure’ and ‘workations’, alongside working remotely, are all changing the mix; these are areas we are seeking to address in our product offerings.”

Sustainability and accessibility: strategies for growth

Sustainability is also a key focus; the company has launched a programme to reduce CO2 emissions in alignment with Trinidad and Tobago’s commitment to the Paris Agreement. CAL complies with ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting Scheme in Aviation (CORSIA) and invests in an efficient fleet to maximise passenger-to-fuel efficiency. With the operation of advanced fuel-efficient aircraft such as the B737-8 jet, CAL has effectively achieved a 2% reduction in CO2 emissions. Over the next five years, the airline will continue prioritising sustainability and explore further measures to reduce its environmental footprint.

Accessibility and inclusion for customers are also top priorities. CAL aims to enhance customer experience by improving accessibility through mobile apps, websites and customer contact points. The company also supports special needs customers with assisted devices. Moreover, the airline offers special assistance services, including pre-boarding assistance, wheelchair support, and passenger boarding ramps across its ATR fleet to enhance passenger movement and convenience.

Medera envisions a strong future for CAL as a leader in the regional airline industry. Their strategies align with projected industry growth, and their commitment to accessibility and inclusion will ensure a positive travel experience for all customers. The company expects a steady recovery in demand for air travel, maintaining dominance on traditional regional routes while expanding its network and introducing new services.


The Race to Vehicle Electrification

By Paul Hadden

Auto Ryan Latchu, President, Automotive Dealers Association of Trinidad and Tobago

Ryan Latchu
Automotive Dealers Association of Trinidad and Tobago

As the world continues to move towards cleaner energy sources, many are transitioning from cars with traditional internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. In recent years, one of the most exciting developments in the local automotive industry has been the increased interest in electric and hybrid vehicles and the development of the necessary infrastructure to support such vehicles.

How is the local automotive market adapting to new trends?

Globally we continue to see an increase in the demand for more energy-efficient vehicles and heightened interest in autonomous mobility solutions. While the likelihood of autonomous mobility, specifically driverless cars, may not be readily realised locally, we are seeing consistent interest in hybrid vehicles (HEV) and other variations of energy-efficient vehicles, such as Battery Electric (BEV) and Plug-in Electric (PHEV) vehicles.

Propelling the induWhat is the rate of electric and hybrid vehicle adoption in T&T?stry

Our local market is still heavily dominated by traditional automotive vehicle options with internal combustion engines, with upwards of 90% of automotive consumers making this choice annually. However, we recently experienced a surge in hybrid vehicle purchases, with hybrid vehicle sales increasing by 3% between 2017 to 2019. With the reintroduction of tax exemptions in May 2022, which were initially in effect for electric-oriented vehicles from 2016 to 2020, we once again saw an increase in the sale of both hybrid and battery electric vehicles. Sales for this segment continue to trend upward as 2023 is projected to surpass last year’s sales.

What is the range of electric and hybrid vehicles available locally (inventory and pricing)?

Over 20 electric-oriented vehicle models are available locally, ranging from sedans to luxury SUVs, with each major distributor offering an ever-expanding competitive selection. Models within this segment can range from economical, starting at approximately TT$230,000, to luxury, up to TT$1,200,000, depending on the make, size, and specifications. Battery efficiency in these vehicles is ever-evolving and improving, with the driving range increasing from an average of 300km to more than 500km.

Does T&T have adequate EV charging infrastructure?of travel

With the purchase of Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PHEV), customers are provided with individual charging stations for domestic use. In addition, nine public charging stations are strategically located along the major highways and roads in Trinidad. Of course, there is always room for improvement; we hope to see the installation of more public charging stations throughout Trinidad and, eventually, in Tobago. 

How soon can we expect to see hydrogen vehicles on the market?

Hydrogen technology in vehicles is relatively new; it is being further developed, tested and is currently focused on two major brands. Therefore, we estimate that hydrogen-powered vehicles will not surface in developing markets until 2025/2026.