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Apr 15, 1999

TACA to suspend Miami flights

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After sixty-five years as Belize’s major international air carrier TACA Airlines today announced that it will be abandoning its flagship daily run between Belize and Miami. The announcement, which had been rumored in aviation circles for several months, was made official this morning in a press release from Grupo TACA’s Communications Center in Guatemala City. Flights will be suspended as of April nineteenth. Reasons given for the decision are financial, with the airline routinely altering its schedule to follow the dictates of the market. Although the press release said that TACA will consider reinstating the route when conditions improve TACA representative in Belize John Searle told News Five that the hiatus in the Miami service would likely last only until the heavy summer travel season begins in June. Searle and TACA President Federico Bloch met today with Prime Minister Said Musa, Tourism Minister Mark Espat and Budget Minister Ralph Fonseca in a last ditch effort to maintain the service, which government considers vital to the growth of tourism. While no decisions were taken to reverse TACA’s decision, a follow-up meeting will be held next Friday with both parties presenting proposals that could make the Miami run feasible. The most likely scenario is a change in time that would separate the flight from its midday competitors. Load factors on TACA’s Miami route have been steadily dropping as its larger U.S. rivals, American and Continental, have used their marketing muscle, computer networks and extensive U.S. route structures to corner the lucrative tourist market and a growing number of local customers as well. The suspension of service to Miami will not affect TACA’s other routes from Belize to Houston and various Central American destinations.

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