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Bahamas Moving On Airlift Need

BY NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business repeorter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

A Ministry of Tourism official said yesterday that the Bahamas was having great success in negotiations to generate increased airlift capacity to Nassau/Paradise Island, telling Tribune Business it was assessing the best opportunities to maximise visitors arrivals.

Tyrone Sawyer, director of airlift development, told Tribune Business: ”We’re having great success in negotiations to generate the increase in seat capacity that we need with Baha Mar coming on line.”

While an additional 400,000 air seats to Nassau/Paradise Island is said to be needed to meet room inventory demand with Baha Mar coming on stream, Mr Sawyer said efforts in that regard were going well.

“We feel pretty good about it, and we are doing it in a very strategic way and looking at the best opportunities to maximise visitors coming in on those seats,” said Mr Sawyer.

“We have a reliance with our hub and spoke carriers, which are able to bring us connections from the Far East, connection from Europe and connections from Latin America as well through those hubs.

“That’s a tremendous opportunity for us to effectively increase the amount of seats, and the opportunity to bring people from markets that a hotel like Baha Mar is seeking to attract its guests.”

Mr Sawyer, who recently attended the Routes Americas Conference in El Salvador, said several airlines were expanding their service into the Bahamas.

“For instance, you have Delta Airlines, which is one of our largest carriers not just to Nassau/Paradise Island but to Grand Bahama and Exuma, and you have American, which has increased its seats to the Out Island destinations in its upcoming schedule,” he added.

“You have United Airlines, which merged with Continental a few years back. They are very strong partners of ours, and then you have JetBlue, which is a very strong partner; they announced services from Reagan National Airport, Washington, starting in April, coming to Nassau.

“Southwest, which purchased Air Tran, was also at the conference and they put in a new reservation which will come on-line in December. The value of Routes is you have all of the carriers in one place, so you can talk and negotiate new opportunities, which we were able to do,” Mr Sawyer said.

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