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CAL: Full flights for Carnival

Caribbean Airlines has said its passenger load for the Carnival season is "very encouraging".

In a telephone interview yesterday, commu- nications director Clint Williams said the North American routes, particularly New York and Miami, Florida, were "notably heavy" and "strong", respectively.

He said while he couldn't provide exact passenger figures just yet, there have been many fully booked flights.

"Anything over 80 per cent capacity is considered to be good, and we have had some 100 per cent flights," he said, adding early bookers get the better fares and seats.

Carnival Wednesday and Friday are when the airline expects the heaviest passenger loads.

Williams said Tobago was also experiencing an upsurge as people plan their post-Carnival cool-downs on the island.

"We've added 4,000 to 5,000 extra seats to the airbridge for the season," he said. He said the company had added 100,000 new seats to the airbridge over the last year, and 100,000 more the year before.

Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz, also in a telephone interview yesterday, said based on the total number of airline seats available, he estimated tourist arrivals for the season (in the ten days in and around Carnival) should be about 40,000.

Last year, the final tally was about 60,000.

He said from speaking to the major hotel chains, he has heard all rooms are booked.

"Everyone seems to have big smiles this season," he said.

Cadiz said the ministry plans to roll out a mar- keting strategy next year to attract other tourists based on the events of Carnival.

"This year, we are seeing people come in for the shows and other Carnival events, so the product is changing (and we will capitalise on that), using things unique to Trinidad, like the steelpan," he said. —Carla Bridglal

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