Economies around the world are taking a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While Belize remains free of the virus up to tonight, several businesses are already taking a hit. Tropic Air has begun streamlining its flights and staff as explained by their President, John Greif.
John Greif, President, Tropic Air: “The way I suggest the whole country takes it is that we’re all in this together. We’re in this as a country, we’re in this as a tourist destination and we all need to help together and help each other and work together. Tropic Air like I said I think the big news out of this interview is that we haven’t fired and we don’t intend to fire anybody, that could change next week with outbreaks, with more international airlines cancelling but as of right now we don’t plan to fire anybody we’re gonna all share the pain. I took a 95% decrease in my pay and most of the employees took a 50% decrease. We sanitize our fleet every night the plane comes home and we insist that they do come home, we sanitize them not just clean them but we sanitize them. We have sanitizer in all our stations every Tropic Air office I’m sure you saw when you came in that you go to we have that. The economic impact has been far greater on Belize obviously than the health impact is since we don’t have any – thank God we don’t have any cases yet. Tropic’s business is off about 50% and we’re the pointing end of the spear so I think we’re going to feel it before the hotels and everybody else does. So we’ve cut our flights by about 50%, we have put people on voluntary leave, we haven’t fired anybody, we don’t intend to fire anybody, we don’t intend to stop flying unless there is no passengers so if two people want to go to Belize City we’re going to put them in a three seater airplane and take them.”
According to Greif, the company had cash reserves but those are being depleted rapidly.
John Greif, President, Tropic Air: “It’s just like your own family imagine if you had all your same expenses and only half the money coming in that’s the dilemma we’re facing and we had cash reserves but we’re going through em like that. Only 50% of our costs are operational, in other words a full half of the money that we have to spend we have to spend whether a plane sits or whether a plane flies so that is very very painful. So we have to use the 50% that’s discretionary for instance if the pilots are used to flying three hours a day have them fly half an hour a day and then give the next pilot another half hour a day and so on so we’re trying to share the pain and everybody I have to thank my employees if they’re watching everybody has been very very receptive in a very can do attitude from everybody.”
Love News understands that the Belize Tourism Board had a staff meeting earlier today where the staff was reportedly informed that an estimated fifty percent of their staff would be laid off at the end of the month. Love News tried reaching out to the BTB’s Director, Karen Bevans but our calls went unanswered.