A Committed Relationship


Top tourism officials from Barbados were on hand to host senior executives from Air Canada, the Air Canada Leisure Group and Air Canada Vacations at an event in Toronto this week that celebrated a remarkable relationship – one that has seen Air Canada bringing Canadians to Barbados for 65 years.

Back on Dec. 2, 1949, Trans Canada Airlines (TCA) – as Air Canada was known then – departed from Toronto’s Malton Airport, bringing Canadians on their first journey to Barbados. The flight aboard the “North Star” took 15 hours – with stops in the Bahamas and Jamaica – before arriving at the newly built Seawell Airport in Barbados. In its first year of service, Air Canada carried 1,500 passengers. In 2014, Air Canada had over 120,000 seats dedicated to Barbados.

The Honourable Richard L. Sealy, Minister of Tourism and International Transport for Barbados said, “Our longstanding relationship with Canada is in great part due to our 65 years of partnership with Air Canada. The air lift by Air Canada has been key to introducing Canadians to Barbados, and keeping them coming back year after year, with a 40% repeat-visitor rate. It goes without saying, this milestone is significant for us.”

Haynesley Benn, Consul General of Barbados at Toronto, pointed out that: “Air Canada has been such an important partner for Barbados over the years; integral to the development of the relationship between our island and Canada;” said, at a celebration last evening in Toronto. “The airline brings more than 70% of our annual visitor traffic from Canada; now that is cause for celebration! We, as Barbadians, are so proud of our association with Air Canada.”

Michael Friisdahl, president and CEO of the Air Canada Leisure Group, praised the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. team for its efforts, and pointed to the strong partnership that the two organizations have developed over the years, observing that, “Barbados was a hit from the beginning.”

And Friisdahl also revealed that in 2015, there will be a dramatic increase in Air Canada’s capacity into Barbados, with 777 service from Toronto and three weekly flights from Montreal.

“This is a team effort,” Friisdahl said, “and our goal [in 2015] is to have the best year ever.”

Air Canada is the longest-serving North American airline to Barbados, with uninterrupted service from Toronto for 65 years. It even eclipses British Airways by five years. The flight numbers on the Toronto-Barbados return route — AC 966 and AC 967 — are arguably some of the longest in existence.

Along with the special dinner event in Toronto, celebrations also included an anniversary flight from Toronto to Bridgetown.

Seen in the photo, from l to r, are Alvin Jemmott, chairman, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.; Michael Friisdahl, president & CEO of the Air Canada Leisure Group; Duncan Bureau, vice-president, global sales, Air Canada; and William Griffith, CEO, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.

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