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Picture: BWIA successor Caribbean Airlines receives first Boeing 737-800 in new livery

The successor to BWIA West Indies Airways received its first aircraft in full livery yesterday, ahead of official launch next year.

Caribbean Airlines received a repainted and re-outfitted Boeing 737-800 yesterday (pictured below) at its base in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The aircraft (9Y-TAB) is the first in the Caribbean Airlines fleet to take the new livery, complete with Hummingbird logo on the tail with the tag line “the warmth of the Islands.” Early references to Trinidad refer to “the land of the hummingbird,” making the symbol “highly appropriate as an emblem for Caribbean Airlines”, the airline says. Two additional 737s will be delivered in the new colour scheme by the end of the year.

© Andrea Da Silva / Caribbean Airlines

Caribbean Airlines is set to launch on 1 January, 2007 and says its focus will be beyond the Leeward and Windward Islands (formerly the British West Indies from where the original BWIA took its name). The aim is to compete with the merged Caribbean Star-LIAT in providing interconnecting flighs around the entire Caribbean region.

Trinidad and Tobago is the fastest growing economy in the region and has the second largest econmy after Jamaica and fourth largest population base. “Caribbean Airlines is rooted in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean, but its outlook is international: a Caribbean carrier with an international perspective. It is a pan-Caribbean airline serving the world”, says Peter Davies, caribbean Airlines chief executive.

Davies believes successor carrier Caribbean Airlines could be bigger than its predecessor within a matter of months, as it aims for profitability by 2009.

After many years of losses – BWIA posted a profit only twice in its 66-year history – the airline is to close at the end of the year, after failing to reach a deal on concessions with its unions. Caribbean Airlines will operate with around a third of the 1,800 staff employed by BWIA.  The airline is recruiting and has received applications from both within and outside BWIA.

BWIA currently operates daily flights to Heathrow, but this service will end on 27 March. Successor carrier Caribbean will instead codeshare on British Airways’ three times weekly flights from London Gatwick to Port of Spain, and flights on the four other days of the week can be booked via Barbados.
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