BARBADOS (Aug. 22)—How important are airlines to small island states? Well, tourism is by far the largest sector for island states, and airlines fly visitors to the destinations, where they use their disposable incomes to purchase and enjoy the many vacation offerings and, in turn, feed the local economies. Taxes generated by local businesses pay for schools, hospitals, roads and all those infrastructure priorities.

On the outbound, airlines expand possibilities for local businesses by flying goods and services to global markets. Think of airlines as aerial highways that distribute wealth and are integral parts of the infrastructure, just like a terrestrial highway, bridge or causeway. Without airlines, many island states would be a lot poorer.

Caribbean destinations, therefore, are constantly looking for ways to improve their airline connections and to attract new airlines to their shores. Some of the secrets to success will come from a senior executive of one of the world’s leading carriers at the region’s leading tourism gathering in Martinique in October.

Christine Kennedy, Delta Airlines’ general manager for international network planning and scheduling for the Caribbean and Latin America, will explain the route planning process and what influences the airline’s decisions when it considers flying into new destinations when she addresses delegates on the opening day of the State of the Industry Conference.

Kennedy will join a panel titled “Fasten Your Seatbelts!” at which airline experts will bring stimulating and insightful thoughts on volatile and sometimes controversial aviation issues.

“My presentation will discuss what factors drive Delta’s decisions to implement new service and what a destination can do to positively influence that outcome,” she asserted. This will be very instructional for Caribbean destinations who are cognizant of the continuing pressure on international carriers.

Delta operates an extensive U.S. and international network, serving all continents except Antarctica. The airline and its subsidiaries operate more than 5,000 flights every day and transport more than 160 million passengers a year.

The State of the Industry conference, which brings together decision-makers from the public and private sectors, academics, government officials, hoteliers, travel professionals and journalists from the region and around the world, will be held Oct. 15 to 18 in Martinique. Themed “Perfecting the Experience, Delivering Authenticity,” the conference is organized by the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization in collaboration with the Martinique tourism authorities.