THE Ministry of Tourism and its partners sought to improve airlift to the Bahamas as they met with airline representatives over two full days of meetings at the Routes Americas Conference in El Salvador, Central America.
Routes Americas is held annually in the Americas to facilitate exchanges between airlines, airports and tourism authorities.
Representing the Ministry of Tourism were Tyrone Sawyer, Director - Airlift Development, and Faye Cash, Senior Analyst – Airlift Development.
Vernice Walkine, Managing Director – Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) also attended the conference, along with Fred Lounsberry, CEO – Nassau/Paradise Island Promotion Board, and Robert Coggin, Airlift Consultant – Nassau/Paradise Island Promotion Board.
“Our goal,” explained Mr Sawyer, “is to ensure that we secure a strategic balance of airlift to all Bahamas destinations to fill available hotel rooms.
“With Baha Mar coming on-line in December, 2014, we are seeking to increase air seat capacity and broaden our market reach to attract increased air stopover arrivals from key tourist markets in the US, Canada, Europe, Latin America and Asia.”
Mr Sawyer confirmed that meetings were held with several airlines, including:
• Delta Air Lines which provides year-round or seasonal scheduled nonstop air service to Nassau/Paradise Island from its Atlanta hub, JFK, Detroit, Boston and Minneapolis; and to Grand Bahama Island and Georgetown, Exuma from its Atlanta hub;
• American Airlines, which recently received US Department of Justice approval for its merger with US Airways, and provides year-round or seasonal scheduled nonstop service through its Miami hub to Nassau/Paradise Island, Grand Bahama Island, Marsh Harbour, Abaco; Governor’s Harbour, Eleuthera; and Georgetown, Exuma. In addition, US Airways continues to provide year-round or seasonal nonstop air service from its Charlotte hub, Philadelphia, and Cleveland to Nassau/Paradise Island;
• JetBlue, which provides year-round or seasonal scheduled nonstop air service from its JFK leisure hub, Boston, and Ft Lauderdale to Nassau/Paradise Island;
• Southwest Airlines, which is coming off the heels of its recently completed merger with Air Tran, and provides year round scheduled nonstop air service from Baltimore and Atlanta to Nassau/Paradise Island.
• United Airlines, which provides year-round or seasonal scheduled nonstop air service from Newark, Chicago, Houston, Cleveland, and Washington, DC (Dulles) to Nassau/Paradise Island;
• Copa Airlines which provides year-round nonstop scheduled air service to Nassau/Paradise Island from Panama, with connecting flights from several Latin American markets like Brazil, Colombia and Argentina; and
• British Airways, which provides year-round nonstop long haul scheduled air service from its London/Heathrow Airport hub, supported by connecting flights from Europe to Nassau/Paradise Island.
Exploratory meetings were also held with several airlines with the potential to bring increased air seat capacity to the Bahamas from Latin America.
Although the format did not allow for extended dialogue, the gathering of airlines in one place provided a unique opportunity to “fine tune” existing deals and to receive up-to-date intelligence from airline partners to ensure that The Bahamas’ airlift strategy continues to be customer focused, Mr Sawyer said.