Bahamas 'Exceeded Goals' At Major Airlift Conference

The Bahamas "exceeded our initial goals and expectations" at the 2018 World Routes Conference in Guangzhou, China, the ministry of tourism's airlift chief believes.

"Geographically, The Bahamas is located thousands of miles away from China, but our presence at this conference, strong networks and our accessibility to these airline operators made the location of the conference itself inconsequential," said Tyrone Sawyer, senior director of airlift development for the Ministry.

The conference brought together hundreds of airline executives from the Far East, Europe, Canada and North America to meet, develop and create business opportunities with vendors from various destinations.

Mr Sawyer said The Bahamas held meetings with representatives of China Southern Airlines, as well as China Eastern Airlines, on improving service connectivity between its US and Canadian alliance partners to "open the gate" for this nation to receive more Chinese stopover arrivals.

Meetings were also held with The Bahamas' long-time partner, American Airlines (AA). The carrier provides more flights, and from more gateways, to more destinations in The Bahamas than any other airline.

Beginning on December 22, the carrier will add non-stop Saturday-only flights to routes including Chicago to Nassau; Charlotte to Marsh Harbour; Abaco and New York (LaGuardia) to Nassau. A second daily non-stop flight from Miami to George Town, Exuma is being added the same day.

The ministry of tourism and aviation is also working with American Airlines on joint promotions with its European and Latin American sales and marketing team to synergise flights, and increase passenger connections, from those areas to The Bahamas through the airline's Miami hub.

Mr Sawyer then met with The Bahamas' long-time partner, British Airways, which provides non-stop, scheduled B-777 jet services to Nassau from London's Heathrow airport with connections from key gateways such as Milan, Paris and Geneva.

The Bahamas has also experienced strong visitor growth from Canada, and meetings were held with Air Canada and West Jet to further build on this upward trend.

Both airlines have added more seats from their respective gateways into The Bahamas. Air Canada provides non-stop service to Nassau from Toronto and Montreal, and to San Salvador from Montreal. West Jet provides non-stop service to Nassau from both Toronto and Calgary.

Mr Sawyer met with several other airline partners for The Bahamas, including JetBlue, Southwest Airlines and Copa Airlines. The latter, which provides non-stop services into Nassau from Panama City, has experienced a sharp increase in passenger load factor as a result of its joint marketing campaign with the ministry of tourism and aviation and industry partners.

Mr Sawyer briefed airline partners on the Government's plans for the Grand Lucayan Resort and wider Grand Bahama, and sought to attract additional airlift to that destination.

"We were especially excited to see the level of interest and excitement expressed by the airlines, and their desire to partner with us by adding more flights to Freeport, Grand Bahama, as consumer awareness builds in advance of the hotel's opening," Mr Sawyer said.

"The distance to travel for this conference was indeed far, but the trip was most gratifying. We feel confident that these efforts will bear much fruit for the islands of The Bahamas."


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