ALTA: InselAir aims to expand codeshares

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InselAir hopes to expand the number of codeshare partnerships it has with other carriers, as it seeks to boost load factors on its flights within the Caribbean.

Partnering with European carriers to carry their passengers within the Caribbean is something Albert Kluyver, president and chief executive of Curacao-based InselAir, says he hopes to do more of, adding that codeshares would help boost traffic on the carrier’s flights within the Caribbean, especially during peak seasons.

InselAir codeshares with KLM, connecting to its flights from Amsterdam at Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and St Maarten.

Partnerships with other Caribbean airlines are also important, says Kluyver, citing the low levels of traffic within the region.

"We try to complement each other instead of [both] flying empty airplanes," he says of InselAir’s codeshare with Surinam Airways, which began in November 2012. The partnership is "working very well", he adds.

InselAir is betting on expansion into South America, as well as the feed from its codeshare partners, to meet its 20-25% target for annual passenger count growth over the next few years. Plans include new flights to cities including Cali, Manaus and the Costa Rican capital of San Jose.

The airline will launch its new Aruba subsidiary in December and plans to add six new aircraft, including two Boeing MD-80s and four Fokker 70s, to its fleet by August 2014.

One thing Kluyver is not concerned about is JetBlue Airways' expansion in San Juan. The New York-based carrier is the largest carrier at the airport and plans to expand service within the Caribbean and to the mainland USA.

"Airlines in America are good at bringing Americans down," he says. "Airlines in our region are good at bringing people from our region up."

Kluyver adds: “San Juan as a [intra-Caribbean] hub is terrible because of the TSA [Transportation Security Administration].”

All travellers transiting in San Juan must clear US customs and immigration before passing through security again for their connecting flight, whether or not that flight is to the USA.

US travellers account for only about 4% of InselAir’s traffic, while the majority come from the Caribbean and Latin America, says Kluyver.