The decision by Eastern Air Lines to cancel all its routes to Martinique, Guadeloupe and St. Lucia as of August 31 may be creating problems for Windstar Sail Cruises because of the cruise line’s relationship with Eastern for airlift to its Caribbean sailings .
(It also illustrates how precarious it may be to chose homeports out of the domestic main stream.)
The three-ship cruise line, which has used Eastern for the vast majority of its air/sea packages to Martinique since WindStar began operations there 19 months ago, has begun to negotiate for additional flights to Fort de France with Air France and American Airlines and a third, unnamed carrier seeking new route authority there.
A spokesperson for Windstar said that Air France would probably be able to handle the maximum of 150-seats, if necessary, to fill the 150-passenger WindStar on its sailings to the Grenadines. A spokesperson for Air France said that the French carrier has been averaging between 20 and 30 seats for the WindStar each week with an early Saturday departure flight from Miami since the line began operations from Martinique. An airline industry source said that Eastern has been averaging 60 to 90 seats for each of Windstar’s sailings there.
A Spokesperson for Windstar downplayed any inconvenience or increased cost by stating that it will operate its seven-day roundtrip cruises to the Bahamas until mid-September and that any airlift problems should be resolved by then. The Air France spokesperson said that the French carrier is, indeed, looking at the possibility of increasing airlift to Martinique.