The management of Water Jets Express, a new water taxi company which operates out of the new dock at Bird’s Isle Restaurant, are complaining that [#%!] established competitors are trying to squeeze them out of business.
|Water Jets Express water taxi|
Most maritime commuters would be familiar with the names; San Pedro Belize Express, and Caye Caulker Water Taxi, but not many would have heard of the Water Jets Express, which has only been operating in Belize for about two weeks. But already the new company has wfelt the attacks against its operations.
Harry Longsworth, co-owner of the Water Jets, says that their company’s local operation came about as a result of the mistreatment that their customers had been receiving for quite some time.
Longsworth explained that Water Jets is simply the Belizean counterpart of Water Jets International, which operates out of Chetumal, Mexico, transporting passengers to San Pedro. Getting from Chetumal to San Pedro, Belize presented no problem, but Water Jets’ passengers encountered difficulties when they tried to travel from San Pedro to Caye Caulker because the other water taxis refused to take them.
This treatment often resulted in Water Jets having to find lodging for their customers who couldn’t depart San Pedro, which increased the company’s operating costs.
Faced with the boycott of Water Jets’ passengers, the company decided to approach the authorities on getting a local run to fill the gap.
|Harry Longsworth - Co-owner of Water Jets Express.|
It was a tug and pull to get a license to operate a “regulated” run from the Belize Port Authority and the Ministry of Transport, but Longsworth said they finally built their own dock at Bird’s Isle.
Longsworth and his team felt that that was enough to cure their problem; however, in an effort to edge out the Water Jets’ domestic run, SPBE cut their prices by 50% thereby coming in direct competition with their fare.
According to Longsworth, the move by the SPBE is a barefaced cutthroat move. “They know that no water taxi company could operate effectively at rates like $30 round trip, when just the gas for one boat’s round trip is about $650, plus they have to pay their boat captains and other employees.”
The SPBE’s idea, he added, comes in an effort to control the water taxi industry, and using their market share to unethically dominate the Belizean industry. “We can’t compete with that, yes we are offering runs for $30 round trip now, but that fare is only promotional since we just opened.” Longsworth made it clear that his company cannot survive at those prices and believes that the SPBE is waiting for them to cave in.
He went on to say that he has already taken the matter up with the authorities. The Belize Port Authority has indicated to him that they will look into the matter and probably as a means of providing proper protection, establish standardized fares.
Currently the Water Jets has four government assigned runs. Longsworth expressed that he would have preferred to have more control over the runs they offer, but that matter is pale in comparison to the more than aggressive competition that they’ve been receiving.