Premier, Minister, CEO Meet With United Airlines

July 13, 2015

Following his trip to Chicago and Toronto, Premier Michael Dunkley provided an update in the House of Assembly on Friday [July 10], saying they met with United Airlines to demonstrate “our keen desire to work with them to ensure that the winter service is not eliminated again.”

Last Wednesday the Premier, the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, the Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO, and the General Manager of the L.F. Wade International Airport, met in Chicago with key executives of United Airlines.

“United Airlines serves a major route for us from Newark, New Jersey,” the Premier said. “That route is of particular interest to us because it serves the business, leisure and resident markets out of one of our major catchment areas.”

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“You would also be aware that United Airlines curtailed its winter service, and has now resumed normal service for the summer. The reduction in service has caused us significant concern,” continued Premier Dunkley.

“The purpose of our visit, therefore, was to demonstrate to United Airlines our keen desire to work with them to ensure that the winter service is not eliminated again.

“We certainly appreciate the challenges faced by airlines today. We fully understand that they must utilize their aircraft in a manner that will yield the greatest return. We also understand that the aircraft used to service Bermuda in the winter could perhaps be more profitably used on other routes.

“Our message to United Airlines was that Bermuda is back in business, and greater things are to come. We spoke of the significant hotel developments that are poised to commence. We spoke of attempts to increase international business in Bermuda.

“We spoke of the significant impact the America’s Cup will have on our economy, bringing teams, their families and their friends to Bermuda, even before the events themselves attract new visitors. We spoke of the confidence that is brewing around Bermuda as a place for business and leisure.”

“United Airlines, who cannot make strategic business decisions simply on the plea of a Government team, no matter how passionate and convincing, was most grateful for the data that our team presented in support of our optimism. It is now for United Airlines to consider our case before discussions continue.”

“I am hopeful that a solution can be found,” Premier Dunkley said, adding that anticipates that the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport Shawn Crockwell will soon advise us of our progress.

The Premier’s full statement follows below:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker

I am grateful for your indulgence to allow me to make this Statement this afternoon, outside of the normal time for such statements, given that I was unable to be present this morning.

Mr. Speaker,

I have just concluded visits to Chicago and Toronto and am pleased to update this Honourable House on the outcome of those visits.

Firstly, on Wednesday, with the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, the Chief Executive Officer of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, and the General Manager of the L.F. Wade International Airport, we met in Chicago with key executives of United Airlines.

Mr. Speaker

You would be aware that United Airlines serves a major route for us from Newark, New Jersey. That route is of particular interest to us because it serves the business, leisure and resident markets out of one of our major catchment areas. You would also be aware that United Airlines curtailed its winter service, and has now resumed normal service for the summer. The reduction in service has caused us significant concern. The purpose of our visit, therefore, was to demonstrate to United Airlines our keen desire to work with them to ensure that the winter service is not eliminated again.

Mr. Speaker

We certainly appreciate the challenges faced by airlines today. We fully understand that they must utilize their aircraft in a manner that will yield the greatest return. We also understand that the aircraft used to service Bermuda in the winter could perhaps be more profitably used on other routes. Our message to United Airlines was that Bermuda is back in business, and greater things are to come. We spoke of the significant hotel developments that are poised to commence. We spoke of attempts to increase international business in Bermuda. We spoke of the significant impact the America’s Cup will have on our economy, bringing teams, their families and their friends to Bermuda, even before the events themselves attract new visitors. We spoke of the confidence that is brewing around Bermuda as a place for business and leisure.

Mr. Speaker

United Airlines, who cannot make strategic business decisions simply on the plea of a Government team, no matter how passionate and convincing, was most grateful for the data that our team presented in support of our optimism. It is now for United Airlines to consider our case before discussions continue. I am hopeful that a solution can be found and I anticipate that the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, my colleague the Hon. Shawn Crockwell, will soon rise in this Honourable Chamber to advise us of our progress.

Mr. Speaker

I must add that we approached our meeting with a degree of concern. You might recall that it was Wednesday that United Airlines was forced to ground their entire fleet as a result of a computer incident. A number of the key executives with whom we were to meet would have been actively involved in addressing this critical and potentially catastrophic failure. To their immense credit, our discussions continued unimpeded, and their flights were able to resume full service in short order.

Not only were we concerned about the meeting, but we were scheduled to fly to Toronto, via United Airlines, immediately following our meeting. I am pleased to say that our flight was not cancelled, and was only one hour delayed.

Mr. Speaker

That flight took us to the second purpose of my travels. I was honoured to have been invited, on behalf of Bermuda, to be a panelist at the International Economic Forum of the Americas – Toronto Global Forum. The focus of our panel was on a shared vision for the Caribbean. This provided an opportunity for me to share with participants the significant impact Bermuda has on the Global Economy. There is no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that Bermuda punches far above its weight.

Also on the panel were Prime Ministers and Premiers from Grenada, the British Virgin Islands and Aruba. As you would no doubt be aware, we share much in common with our fellow island nations. Clearly, there are factors that distinguish us, and we will be forceful advocates of those distinctions, but we can and must learn from and assist each other. We have a solid record of doing so, and this must continue.

Mr. Speaker

The International Forum of the Americas presented us with an invaluable platform to inform the broader Americas region of our strengths, and of the opportunities that exist in Bermuda. The brand Bermuda is making a significant presence in not only the International Business sector, but also in the leisure travel sector. As we so well know, both of these sectors work synergistically together.

Through the efforts of our International Business partners, their professional associations, marketing teams, the Bermuda Business Development Agency, the Tourism Authority and the Government, we are reaching out to new markets, particularly in Latin America. So those present would have heard our message that we are open to new business, and are ready to welcome them to our shores, for both work and pleasure.

Mr. Speaker

The Forum was timed to coincide with the opening of the Pan American Games, also held in Toronto. It had been my hope to remain in Toronto to support our athletes as they proudly represent Bermuda. However, our work here in this Honourable House is not yet done; much important work for the good of this wonderful country remains to be accomplished. So I am here to get on with the people’s business.

Nevertheless, with the assistance of the Ministry of Community, Culture and Sport, the Bermuda Olympic Association, and their officials on the ground in Toronto, I was able to visit a number of our athletes in the Athletes’ Village. Mr. Speaker, it was indeed a pleasure to spend some time with our young competitors, who are so thrilled and keen to represent their island home. Sport is able to elicit national pride in both competitors and the people of a nation in a way like none other. That pride was evident among our athletes. It is contagious, and I encourage all of us to support our athletes as they represent us in Toronto.

Mr Speaker

Toronto provided another opportunity for me to experience national pride. I was aware that a Bermudian, Tim Terceira, was the General Manager of the Toronto Ritz Carlton. You would knowthat the Ritz Carlton is one of the foremost luxury hotels in the world, whose level of service sets the standard for others to emulate. The Toronto Ritz Carlton rates as one of the best of all of the Ritz Carlton properties. That level of performance is directly related to the leadership of Tim Terceira, a Bermudian.

This is not just the boastings of a proud Bermudian. This is the assessment of one who would know, Mr Bob Kharazmi, the Ritz Carlton Global Officer of Worldwide Operations. Tim was hand selected to open the Toronto property, and as a result of his leadership the hotel has surpassed all expectations in record time. It just so happened that we arrived to meet with him just as the hotel was about to hold a farewell celebration for him, as he has been asked to lead the Ritz Carlton’s Boston property. Mr Speaker, we know that Tim will continue to do outstanding things for the Ritz Carlton group, and we are so proud of him.

Mr. Speaker

Reflecting on the past few days of meetings, I can say with assurance that Bermuda is roaring back; in business, in tourism, and in sport. While there remains much to be done, let us celebrate who we are as a people, all that we have accomplished, and all that we can and must accomplish, together.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (19)

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  1. Celebrate who we are as a people,and all we have accomplished, celebrate what and what have WE accomplished.
    Is he on de same island?
    His circle and associates are celebrating… deals and favors and are accomplishing their well thought out scheme.

  2. Frequentflyer says:

    PLEASEEEEE keep the winter flight!

  3. Terry says:

    Get off the ‘juice Betty…………

  4. RaymondRay says:

    Thanks to all who’d taken part in this latest “venture” to lure more visitor during our up-coming winter months and years…
    “Last Wednesday the Premier, with the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, the Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO, and the General Manager of the L.F. Wade International Airport, met in Chicago with key executives of United Airlines.”
    Now that is what we refer to as, “closing the gate before the horses run away.” Job well done O.B.A and all others…

    • I just love to “ruffle the feathers of them diehard supporters of the Opposition who know it ain’t a damn thing they can do until it’s time to vote…in 2 1/2 yrs. time.

    • Watch how you use the word Gate.

  5. cottereaux says:

    Bermuda is roaring back? I guess the Premier has not been kept to date on the poor tourism numbers released by BTA.

    And then there is the issue of American tourism to Cuba that will negatively impact Bermuda. BTA has no plan to counter that drain of tourists.

    • Lois Frederick says:

      In the House when questioned on that part, he alluded to 2nd quarter numbers being improved. He might well know something we don’t. We will have to wait and see.

      • cottereaux says:

        May showed some improvement due to cruise passengers but nothing noteworthy overall and a drop in Air Arrivals cancelled out the cruise gains. Growth overall is still less than zero (-0.09%) in the May 2015 BTA report.

        Air Arrivals YTD down 4.21%.
        Hotel Occupancy Rate down 5.54%
        Projected 2015 Air Arrivals Jan-Dec, down 2.10%
        Projected 2015 Room Variance Jan-Dec, up 0.61%

        • Zevon says:

          So you only show the down numbers. Well done.

    • Terry says:

      Garbage ‘cottereaux’.
      Cuba is not open for business.
      It has taken 50+ years and a great President to even open negotiations.

      Yes it will affect down the road.

      BTA has a plan.

      Now when your off your koolaide; get back.

      …….
      Don’t give up folks.

    • Unbelievable says:

      There is zero we can do about people wanting to go to Cuba. It’s up to Bermuda and Bermudians who work in the industry to offer top notch service. Don’t make it like this is a matter for politicians to fix.

      • There are HARDLY any Bermudians working in the industry and even if Cuba is less fortunate than us materially their Government honor and respect Cubans.
        Hint, hint.

        • Unbelievable says:

          I don’t know the numbers of Bermudians vs Foreign workers in the hospitality industry but you probably fail to realise this also takes into account taxi drivers, chefs, waiters, bus drivers, musicians, tour boat operators, etc etc. All these people participate in working in the tourism sector in one way or another. You’re too blinded by your rage and anger to see anything beyond your nose.

          Like I said before…you don’t know what you are talking about.

  6. had enough says:

    Without the ac, we would be dead in water (as we have been since our tourism boom days) .
    The ac will generate, in the short term, as increase in 1/ retail sales 2/ increased air arrivals and 3/ increased economic activity. We now see a small bit of activity in construction renovations – significantly driven by the pac.
    The a/c is the only bet the BTA is hoping, and probably will, reflect favourably on the trends. There is no other magic wand to the boost economy – in the short term.
    We should all not be surprised when the spike happens.

  7. Diamond-Lyn says:

    Now this is what I like to see in the news. As a student in New Jersey it is hard coming home in the winter because JFK is so far and so expensive (we pay airfare plus having to pay 100+ in transportation fees to the airport from school). United needs to keep these winter flights open for the sake of the college students traveling to and from Bermuda for thanksgiving, Christmas etc. College students are also affected too. #JustSaying

  8. Yes 2 says:

    I am sure that United would lend a sympathetic ear to our pleas, but that is all they are going to lend.

    Sadly nobody is going to fly to Bermuda unless they can get a good return on their investment on every flight. At the moment the major US carriers (American, United, Delta and Southwest) are under investigation by Federal officials for colluding to keep capacity down so that ticket prices remain high. What with the feeder airlines being unable to operate due to the inevitable shortage of pilots who are suitably qualified (partly due to the stringent requirements put in place by the FAA after the Coglan ATR crash coupled with numerous pilots reaching the mandatory 65 year retirement age)I have little optimism in United operating to Bermuda this winter.

    I do hope I am wrong, but I see this as the start of a further downward trend in air services to Bermuda.