By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
AIRLINES are committed to “absolutely” adding additional flights to the Bahamas as long as there is “sustained demand” for the destination, the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) Chief Executive said yesterday.
Vernice Walkine noted that the airport operator and tourism stakeholders were assessing some of the “low hanging fruit” to generate additional airlift.
Ms Walkine told Tribune Business that it is important to look holistically at a destination and determine how sustained demand can be generated. “We have very good relationships with the airlines, very good partnerships, and they have all said to us that if there is sustained demand that they will absolutely put on the flights.
“We have talked to them about specific gateways that they are interested in which we believe will benefit the destination. It’s not just Baha Mar but obviously we have a lot of rooms at Atlantis and other places. It’s important for us to look holistically at the destination and determine how we can generate sustained demand,” said Ms Walkine.
“We do have that plan and so we are all very interested in having Baha Mar open its rooms. We see what kind of lift that means for the destination and the airlines will respond. Airlines are a business and they generally adjust their schedules in June and December.
“Any decisions for December 2015 are being made now and it’s going to be important for us to see the degree to which by June of this year some indication could be had of where Baha Mar is in in terms of forward bookings and that sort of thing.”
Ms Walkine noted that air service development is a daily focus for NAD as passenger numbers determine daily revenue intake. “We continue to talk to our airline partners together with our own strategic partners, the Ministry of Tourism, the Nassau/Paradise Island Promotion Board, Baha Mar and Atlantis about what are some of the sort of low hanging fruit we can tackle in terms of additional airlift to support the existing rooms but also to prepare for when Baha Mar is fully open and operational,” said Ms Walkine.
“We do have a plan and that plan is slowly being executed. It is fair to say the degree to which we can get a firm open date for Baha Mar and the demand for those rooms is established to a level that the airlines can see where they can put on additional capacity because the demand there is critical.
“No airline today, no matter how much equipment they have available, will put on a flight if it doesn’t believe that it can make money. The Bahamas is in an interesting position because we are a demand destination but we are also one of those destinations that because of our geography we are a short haul and as a result the airlines don’t make as much money on a Bahamas flight as they do on flights that go to some of our competitors.”