For North American meeting executives, the key to Caribbean success is airlift. Here's some of the latest on air travel in the region:
* American Airlines has replaced larger planes with smaller aircraft for many destinations. Reflecting this, the company recently opened a $6 million American Eagle departure gate in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Eventually, all Eagle flights, 160 daily to 22 destinations, will be moved to the new terminal. American Eagle has also launched twice-daily service to Port of Spain, Trinidad.
* United Airlines will start flying to the U.S. Virgin Islands this fall. United recently announced its plans to fly nonstop into St. Thomas from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and Washington, D.C.'s, Dulles International Airport.
* BWIA will add six Boeing 737-800 aircraft to its fleet, one every quarter beginning in November. This will enable the airline to proceed with its plans to service two additional U.S. points from Barbados in the last quarter of 1999 and first quarter of 2000. There will be daily Barbados-to-St. Lucia and Grenada flights, connecting passengers from these islands to and from its long-haul U.S. services. Additionally, Barbados will have daily direct service to Caracas, timed to connect with South American carriers to Brazil, Chile, and Buenos Aires.
* A recent change in air service in the Caribbean has been the development of a hub in Montego Bay, Jamaica by Air Jamaica. The airline, which was privatized in 1994 and serves as the national carrier of Jamaica, recently expanded its group division in Miami. Air Jamaica now offers more than 330 direct flights a week from Atlanta, Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York (JFK), Orlando, and Philadelphia to Jamaica's Montego Bay and Kingston, Barbados, Grand Cayman, Havana, Nassau, and St. Lucia. On May 27, the carrier will begin offering twice-weekly service to Grenada directly from New York's JFK and from its Montego Bay hub.