Kieran Daly/LONDON

BWIA INTERNATIONAL Airways' new owners believe that they can more than double the Trinidad and Tobago flag-carriers turnover in five years.

The airline, now owned by the Acker Group, its Caribbean investors and employees, will shortly place orders for two Boeing 767-300ERs and eight 757-200s, both with engine choices to be decided. A third 767 and two more 757s could follow eventually.

President and chief operating officer, Ed Wegel says, that all the aircraft are due to be delivered, by the end of 1997, to replace four of five, Lockheed L1011-500 TriStars and seven McDonnell Douglas MD-83s.

The cargo capacity of the 757s, compared with the MD-83s, is a key factor in a business plan which, Wegel believes, could take annual revenue from the present $220 million past $500 million "within five years".

"Add in South America and our allies and there is a lot of incremental revenue that could flow. We are talking about very substantial growth."

Wegel sees new direct links to South America, notably Buenos Aries, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Surinam and Venezuela as a strong opportunity, partly because of "cross-seasonality". In the Caribbean he wants to develop destinations, including Aruba, Haiti and, as its infrastructure improves, Cuba.

European services, particularly from Frankfurt and London, are scheduled to be increased, although slots at Heathrow are a problem.

A Zurich service will be introduced and Milan may follow.

Wegel believes that the Caribbean Governments are working towards a resolution of the roles of their carriers, particularly of multi-national LIAT and newcomer Carib Express. BWIA has co-operative arrangements with both.

"We see [British Aerospace BAe 146-equipped] Carib Express being a regional and LIAT being a true turboprop-carrier for shorter sectors using their [de Havilland Canada] Twin Otters and [Bombardier/de Havilland] Dash 8s. The Governments will come together at the end of the day and sort it all out."

The other key element is BWIA's alliances with American Airlines, British Midland, Canadian Airlines and TABA of Brazil, together with LIAT, Carib Express and Air Caribbean.

Wegel says that it needs to get the feeds flowing from its international partners and to get the American Airlines-owned Sabre computer reservations system fully operational. This is due by July.

Source: Flight International