Two of Belize's domestic airlines announced on October 28th that they will merge. Maya Airways, Belize's oldest air carrier, in service since 1962 and Island Air, in service since 1989, will on December 1st begin operations as Maya Island Air.
According to Pablo Espat, General Manager of the new company, the merger will enable the company to provide scheduled flights to every destination in Belize. Espat explained that the merger provided economic incentives to both companies. "Volume drives the airline business," Espat explained. "Two small companies have a difficult time providing extensive service. At this time of year many Belizean companies are operating on a day to day basis." The rationale for the merger is that the operating cost structure for one larger company will be less and one larger company will be more efficient. The merger will also allow the new company to expand its marketing and employee training as well as the acquisition of computers and computerized service which are vital in today's business world.
Espat said the only disadvantage in the merger is that the new company cannot carry all of the employees of both companies. By merging, the airlines will consolidate their stations throughout the country; instead of two offices at Belize's airports and airstrips, there will be one. The same is true for maintenance. The airlines will phase out their maintenance operations at Municipal airstrip and consolidate at the International airport. Currently the two airlines employ 100 persons, the new company will require the services of 75 to 80 persons. "We are meeting with the employees one on one and we are attempting to place them in companies we are associated with. We are also looking to expand our current services which may create positions."
The corporate management of Maya Island Air has been set up to take advantage of the two companies experienced executives. Trevor Roe will serve as Chairman of the Board, Pablo Espat is the new General Manager. The position of Director of Marketing will be filled by Nando Trejo. Gach Guerrero will serve as Director of Operations. Dave Huber is the new Chief Engineer and Chuck Woods is Chief Pilot. Shelly Bradley will head accounting. Roe, Espat, Woods and Bradley are senior people in Maya Airways; Trejo, Guerrero and Huber are Island Air executives.
The merger will provide Maya Island Air with 11 aircraft or 73 passenger seats. Espat says the transition on December 1st will be "seamless" for customers. All phones will be answered "Maya Island Air" and the service will be countrywide wherever and whenever our customers want to fly. Commenting on the Mexican airlines applying to fly routes in Belize, Espat said that the future growth for Belizean airline will be flying to regional destinations. "Maya Island Air plans to continue its route to Flores daily, however, the merged operation will give us the ability to increase our routes to Mexico and Honduras as we need to."
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