By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
NASSAU Airport Development Company (NAD) executives and major tourism stakeholders are actively targeting key carriers as part of a strategy to create additional airlift, in a bid to support the expanded hotel room inventory set to come on stream within the next two years via the $2.6 billion Baha Mar project.
NAD's vice-president of marketing and communications, Vernice Walkine, told Tribune Business: "We have an airlift committee, which is comprised of the Ministry of Tourism, the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board and the Nassau Airport Development Company.
"We get together regularly and have developed a strategy to target key airlines that are important to the destination, particularly in view of the additional rooms coming with Baha Mar, which is really not that far way.
"We've determined that we need to reach out now to various carriers to ensure that they understand that the destination has an expanded inventory of rooms, so that they can ensure they keep us in their plans as they expand their frequencies, look at new markets and that sort of thing.
"We are systematically approaching the carriers that are important to us to talk to them about what our goals are, and to see how their goals align with ours. It's been a very important exercise."
Ms Walkine added: "We have already met with two main carriers. We are targeting another three meetings some time within the next three to four weeks.
"We will be at the Routes world forum coming up at the end of September in Abu Dhabi. We have requested meetings with 13 different airlines from Latin America, the US and Europe. We're well on our way in terms of executing our agreed strategy, in terms of approaching these airlines together. We're very pleased with the progress made so far, and hope to be in the position in the near future to announce some new services and additional frequencies form certain markets."
Regarding operations at LPIA, Ms Walkine said: "Things are going very will. Year-to-date we have had growth in each sector, including the US, which was the slowest to sort of rebound, but we have had very positive growth each month since November.
"The domestic sector has been growing, the US sector has been growing and the international sector has been growing. The tend is very positive. In terms of the seats that airlines have committed to the destination, we are well ahead of the number of seats we had coming in last year this same time, and the seats are being filled. Load factors are very healthy."