By Ricardo Wells
Tribune Staff Reporter
AFTER a weekend of chaos, cancellations and lengthy delays, operations at Bahamasair are back on schedule, the airline’s managing director Tracy Cooper has said.
During a press conference at the company’s Coral Harbour Road offices earlier this week, Mr Cooper blamed the airline’s recent failures on several “mitigating circumstances,” which he said were compounded despite the company’s best efforts to right itself.
Expanding on these series of factors which he first revealed on Sunday, Mr Copper on Monday said while the airline had prepared for various scenarios which included aspects of what transpired last weekend, none of its contingencies could address the issues that arose collectively.
“We didn’t anticipate something like this happening a day or two before Christmas with all of those circumstances,” he said. “We would just like the public to know that it was not the fact that Bahamasair was just delinquent, but really it was mitigating circumstances that caused Bahamasair not to be able to operate as it should have,” he told reporters.
He later added: “We operated these three days around the clock. We were operating flights well into the night, we had flights coming in from Miami at 3am, 5am and we kept our staff in place to make sure that they can deal with the passengers.”
Over the weekend, several Bahamasair flights servicing Florida airports were cancelled or delayed due to a “massive weather disturbance” and power failure.
Tensions ran high in Florida airports according to passengers, some of whom also took to social media to voice their frustration at delays of over 12 hours.
“(Flight) schedule for 4.40pm, finally in Nassau at 5am,” one passenger posted on Facebook.
A tourist, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Tribune this week that people were “screaming and arguing” in the Miami airport on Thursday night. It was a poor start to this guest’s first trip to The Bahamas, who said the entire ordeal was worsened by the lack of communication provided by the airline.
He explained that for hours, passengers were given no updates as to when they would be travelling, and simply told that their status was “on hold.”
The outcry prompted several statements from Mr Cooper and the airline which noted the airline’s inability to service its routes due to weather, technical issues in New Providence or delays due to the airline’s struggles.
Attempting to further clarify these dilemmas on Monday, Mr Cooper revealed that two of the airline’s planes were grounded due to repairs and maintenance.
Additionally, it was revealed that a stand-by aircraft the airline had subleased, a MiamiAir 168-seater, was unable to render assistance due to weather.
The aircraft was scheduled to fly into Miami last Thursday to transport a group of stranded passengers and pick up its additional crew. Because of this setback, the aircraft flew directly to Nassau where it wasn’t utilised afterwards.
Bahamasair on Monday also made public its plans to contract freighter services to offset the high capacity it normally encounters during the holiday season.
However, that agreement was sidelined for much of the weekend because, like Bahamasair flights, the contracted freighter service was grounded in Nassau for extended periods of time.
Lastly, Bahamasair said it had arranged to have its new 737 aircraft added to it fleet from as far back as September, but delays with the company providing the aircraft shelved those plans.
Mr Cooper said: “In retrospect, the public doesn’t know what is happening behind the scenes, so therefore the general public or the flying public who are flying on Bahamasair will only understand what they see, as to the fact that Bahamasair could not provide a flight for them at the time it was promised.”
He added: “So, we are not blaming the public for saying they did not have a good experience, they didn’t. But, what we are trying to explain to the public is it wasn’t because of Bahamasair’s lack of effort, it was because of other things that restricted Bahamasair from performing its duties and carrying out these flights.”
According to Mr Cooper, Bahamasair has now successfully transported all passengers and baggage affected by delays and cancellation over the weekend.