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Direct air service inaugurated between Bz. & Guat #92837
10/17/04 10:11 AM
10/17/04 10:11 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,221
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP
Direct air service inaugurated between Bz. & Guat.

The service is only twice a week and the route is not particularly busy. But the inauguration of direct air links between Belize and Guatemala City is one of the few hopeful developments in the otherwise stagnant diplomatic situation between the neighbouring countries. This morning I was on hand for the festivities at the P.G.I.A.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
We are not certain when--or even if--the Guatemalan claim to Belize will be resolved but new transit service may very well help the process. This morning the Guatemala Airline Tikal Jets landed for the first time in Belize. Among the dignitaries on onboard flight WU071 was Belize’s Ambassador to Guatemala, Alfredo Martinez.

Alfredo Martinez, Belize’s Ambassador to Guatemala
“It’s part of the confidence building measures that both governments have been promoting towards a final settlement of our dispute. Part of the problem has always been that both sides distrust each other, just as we say oh we do not want to go to Guatemala because we don’t trust them, neither dot hey want to come here because they feel the same way about us, not everyone but quite a few. This is going to go a long way of building bridges to get our people together, to get to know them to get to know each other.”

Richard Laveres, British Ambassador to Guatemala
“Well I think it’s an enormously important step because it helps to build confidence. It helps to build understanding. I know that Ambassador Fred Martinez has worked enormously hard on this and that I think it’s just the kind of thing that can have a positive impact. I’m absolutely delighted.”

Juan Pablo Forno, Commercial Director, Tikal Jets
“We are always looking for new destinations; for leisure market. But Belize is extremely important for us because we think it is the moment to pray that we have an alliance between the two countries.”

Alfredo Martinez
“We have been talking for the past six months with Tikal Jets. They showed an initial interest about coming to Belize with the embassy. So our embassy as the channel to the Government of Belize worked with the ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Tourism and then from there on Tikal Jets worked with the Ministry of Transport and the Civilization Departments. We are trying to get the authorities together from both sides getting them to understand the importance of the flight.”

The link not only promises to strengthen friendship between Belize and Guatemala but also boost tourism in both countries.

Juan Pablo Forno
“Currently Guatemala receives over eighteen thousand people from Belize plus the people that travel from Guatemala to Belize. We think this a market that can easily expand. “

Alfredo Martinez
“It means sharing their tourism coming in from Europe because now Iberia has started non-stop flights to Guatemala City form Madrid and so has Lada Air from Milan Italy, trying to avoid the crush in Miami. So most of these European tourists that come Guatemala to visit Antigua, Guatemala City and Tikal would find a way then to come to Belize much easier. So for tourism for Belize it means a big boost.”

The total journey takes about three hours including an intermediate stop in Flores. The Tikal Jets service to Belize will include two flights a week, Monday and Friday, on their one hundred and twenty-three seat DC aircraft. The airline, which was founded in 1992, prides itself being the first low cost carrier in Central America.

Juan Pablo Forno
“Tikal Jets has a very singular way in that we buy the airplanes cash, we don’t have any debts. We have zero leasing. We don’t manage our airlines with bank loans or anything like that. So in that way the only cost we have is the operation cost and our fix cost are extremely low. We have a hundred and fifty employees. We have three airplanes and so this has helped us to maintain very low costs.”

The airlines’ commercial director, Juan Pablo Forno, is confident that Tikal Jets will quickly become the first choice for travelling between Belize and Guatemala as it offers travellers an attractive price one hundred and thirty Belize dollars one way to Guatemala City and fifty Belize dollars one way to Flores, Peten.

If you would like more information on Tikal Jets or make reservations, the number to call is 227-2593.

Re: Direct air service inaugurated between Bz. & Guat #92838
10/17/04 10:12 AM
10/17/04 10:12 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,221
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP
Tikal jets direct to Belize

In the old days when a Guatemalan jet flew over Belize, the fear was that it carried bombs. Well, that wasn't the case today, this one brought only goodwill and the promise of better relations between these distant neighbors. Tikal jets is the new upstart in the Central American airline industry and the carrier flew its inaugural flight into Belize today. 7 News was at the VIP room for the launching ceremony and found that there's a time when business and confidence building are one in the same:

Jules Vasquez Reporting

When Tikal jet touched down at the PGIA for is inaugural flight this morning, it was more than just a new route, it's a symbol of hope for two nations that have long been locked in a historical dispute:

H.E. Fred Martinez – Belize's ambassador to Guatemala
"It's historic to begin with to have a Guatemalan flag carrier after a very long time of absence flying into Belize direct. It's very symbolic also as a political statement by both governments in saying that they do want the relations to improve and that they do want their peoples to visit each other and to get to know each other."

Juan Pablo Forno – Commercial Director, TIKAL Jets
"On a personal level I see Belize as an alliance. I see as two countries that can share their strengths in tourism, in business, in industry so I think this is a great moment for both countries."

H.E. Richard Lavers – British Ambassador to Guatemala
"I believe it's going to be hugely important in a practical way because it'll, as he said in his speech a few minutes ago, it'll help both side to appreciate each other and it's going to mean that many more Guatemalans will travel here to Belize and Vice Versa. That is very good that both sides will get to know each other it can only help to build confidence and understanding. I think that that is enormously important."

It's politically important, historically significant and all that....but, bottom line, is it good business?

Jules Vasquez
"One has the sense that it is a good gesture overtaking perhaps a notion of good business. Just looking initially at the rates and the fact that this route has never been tried before you get the sense that somebody wants to make something look good but maybe it won't look good on paper."

Fred Martinez
"I think that the reason it took a long time because Tikal had to be convinced on their own that the route would be profitable. The present route is not non stop from Guatemala city it's making a stop in Flores. The Tikal Jets fly from Flores every morning, continues. This is just and it would stay on the ground. This is a continuation of that fligh from Flores into Belize city. Their biggest market is the Guatemala City-Flores. There are about three flights a day between Tikal Jets and the other airlines that fly to Flores and they are always full. So this is a continuation into Belize, they are not expecting to the plane they expect to get a number of passengers that would make it profitable to continue on to Flores. And to proceed on to Guatemala City so its two destinations being shared to go into Guatemala City."

Juan Pablo Forno
"We believe there is great traffic between Belize and Guatemala to this moment we have over 20 thousand visitors from Belize to Guatemala but most of them have to travel by bus or by car and it's extremely long hours and very uncomfortable roads and the airfare tickets were extremely high. Almost four times more expensive than what we are offering. So we consider it to be a very good investment to start a route, twice a week, it's going to travel Guatemala-Flores, Flores Belize and then back Belize-Flores, Flores-Guatemala."

Jules Vasquez
"So it stops in Tikal, how does it work?"

Juan Pablo Forno
"It's a technical stop for 30 minutes but you are going to leave at 9:30 from Belize and you are going to arrive at 11:30 in Guatemala. So this is, I think, a first step by giving you a route which is extremely low cost which is round trip 129 dollars, one way it's 65 dollars. Also we are going to promote tourism by doing the flight from Belize to Tikal and back which is 25 dollars per one way ticket. So it's cheaper than the bus."

Cheaper than the bus and this is a DC-9 jet with seating for 123 passengers, a proposition that's hard to argue with, commercially and politically.

At startup, the flight will go twice weekly and eventually upgrade to three times weekly. Tikal jets also has flights direct from Europe and planners hope to establish a long sought after connection for Belize in this regard.

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