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8698: Durban on Air Travel to Haiti (fwd)

From: Lance Durban <lpdurban@yahoo.com>

In the recent Corbett post by "Anonymous", he/she categorically

   "Aristide invested in a start-up Haiti International
    Airline only to see it folded last fall." 

Ahh, where do you get this piece of ownership info on HIA. 
That's certainly is news to me, and it sounds like an effort to
crank up the rumor-mill with no factual basis.

Anonymous then goes on to say....

    "... Haitians have a master/slave relationship with AA.
     On the one hand, they complain about its service, which
     is indeed deplorable. But on the other hand, they are
     reticent at giving another airline a chance."

In the last 22 years I have made about 120 round trips between
the U.S. (mostly Miami) and PAP, and in my humble opinion
AMERICAN AIRLINES is FAR better than any of the others including
AIR FRANCE and ALM.  Service on the latter two is OK except that
they both have difficulty in adhering to posted schedules.  (AIR
FRANCE personnel have actually admitted as much to me with the
'explanation' that with few surplus aircraft on this side of the
Atlantic they are less able than AA to find substitutes on short
notice.  For its part, ALM has had serious financial
difficulties in recent years which apparently hasn't been helped
by their ticketing partnership with United). 

As for the various now-defunct or ailing Haitian airlines (Haiti
Air, Haiti Trans Air, Haiti International Airlines, Air d'Ayiti,
etc.) their record has been simply atrocious...frequent flight
cancellations, baggage systematically put on a later flights,
little or no computerized reservations and ticketing, etc.  I
once saw an agent accept a $20 bribe to take an unauthorized
third suitcase from someone ahead of me in the check in line,
and then discovered upon arrival in Haiti that MY checked bag
had been left behind!  The only way these Haitian airlines could
get ANY passengers was to (1) offer a lower price or (2) have a
seat available when everyone else was sold out.  On a cost
basis, these Haitian airlines start with three strikes against

 1. Leasing older smaller aircraft means they are penalized
    in fuel costs, and fuel is a big part of the operating
    expense of any airline (or the plane's owner who must
    pass the fuel cost along). 
 2. Smaller planes also have less luggage space, making it 
    harder to accomodate the over-loaded Madam Sara's who 
    not only want the cheapest ticket but also the ability 
    to fill up extra suitcases.
 3. With fewer passengers to cover fixed costs, the Haitian
    airlines simply need to charge more, not less per ticket
    than AA. 

So, should the Haitian government be subsidizing a national
airline, as some people on this list have urged?  Absolutely
not! The Haitian government should be concentrating on bringing
private investment into the country by creating an atmosphere
conducive to such employment-generating investment.  This is
what will get more people (including tourists) interested in
flying to Haiti in the first place, and that in turn, may
attract another real airline (Delta, Continental, etc.) to set
up operations in Haiti.   And some real competition for AA for a
change can only be a good thing for the travelling public.

Lance Durban

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