Following last week's Balearia incident on the high sea, Hernan Calvo, CEO of the fast ferry agreed to a question and answer, where she spoke candidly to several topics.
Q. Good Morning Mr. Calvo, it's a pleasure to have this opportunity for an interview with you.
A. The pleasure is all mine. I have always wanted to be close to the people of Grand Bahama. I am very grateful for this opportunity. Being here with you makes me feel part of the community.
Q. What is your Balance for this year 2013 that is ending soon?
A. Well, this year was good for us. We have improved a lot of our services, we have expanded our cargo operation, and also our passenger satisfaction and transportation.
Q. Can you specify some of the improvements in regards to the expansion of your Cargo services?
A. Actually, in regards with the freight market we have created our Cargo Department this current year. The experience has been really positive. We started this past March and we've been increasing our average transported cargo per sailing day every months without exception. We are carrying LCL, cars, Bins, and we will get into the Full Container market soon. We are really proud of how our Cargo Department is growing, and this is one part of our business that we want to push hard for next year, as we believe there is some space to go on growing.
Q. In regards to the passenger market, which improvements have you seen?
A. We have created new packages, and we have run some big promotions last summer. We started with some events on the island, that were very successful, and now we are working on next yearâ s marketing plan, which we will include more than 20 events that we want to promote in Grand Bahama.
Our aim is to bring more people to the island. This will result in more business for everybody and more development for the islandâ s different industries. We have also begun to promote specials for Bahamians, our local market. We are running some special promotion right now in which, for example, we are giving the ticket for free (only taxes) for kids under 12 years old. This promotion is only for trips that begin on Freeport. Our idea is to give the opportunity to our passengers to bring their children to Florida this holiday season without the burden of the extra expense.
We will also launch very soon a special service for shopping in Florida with Balearia Bahamas Express. This new service will revolutionize the shopping experience for the Bahamians in Florida. At the end we are really committed to Grand Bahama Community, and we want to bring a good service for everybody and at the same time give something back.
Q. This week we have had some bad reviews regarding your service. Many passengers complained about a bad experience on-board the Pinar del Rio. What happened last Tuesday?
A. We are in the transportation sector, and sometimes things happen all together. Let me explain myself. Last Tuesday the vessel had a problem in one engine. This is something that may happen, but this week we also had very bad weather. Our technical people tried to fix the problem for a while, so the departure was delayed. Unfortunately all the passengers were already on-board, and they had to wait on the ship. Once we departed they were confronted with the tough seas, which are typical for this time of the year. This was not a comfortable trip for our passengers. We may had some lack of communication and I personally apologize for that, but as you can understand, technical issues and bad weather can happen.
At the end, the technical problem was solved, and arrived to Freeport. You know, we have always delays when we are going to take a flight, cancelations, etc, and they are never on the press. This is the first problem we have had in the whole year, so it sounds a little unfair to me, but it's ok. We are a public service and we have a deep commitment to the people, we have to take this experience and try to make every day better and better.
Q. Any news on regarding the new vessel for this route?
A. Well, this is our big bet for this line. We do believe the actual vessel is doing well, we are improving our services on-board, our promotions for tickets and for cargo, but we are convinced that the goal is to bring a bigger and better vessel. Is time to move forward, and this is what we are going to do for early next year. We will bring a ship with full container cargo capacity, and with minimum the double passenger capacity. The vessel will be a steel monohull with a wonderful sea keeping, so we won't have bad experiences due to weather conditions as it happened this week. This means a significant investment for our Company, and we are glad to make it, as we are always looking for a long term relationship with this Community, trying every day to do things better, and we will do it.