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Nassau Gains 15% Airlift Capacity Boost

Seat capacity on flights from key US tourist markets to Nassau is expected to increase by almost 15 percent over the next six months, it has been revealed.

Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD), the company that runs Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA), disclosed the data after reporting the busiest summer in history for The Bahamas' main airport.

Delta, JetBlue, United, Copa and American Airlines have either increased, or will increase, the number of flights from major population centres into LPIA over the July-December 2018 period.

American Airlines is adding a new Chicago route non-stop on Saturdays, implementing year-round service from New York's La Guardia airport, and offering weekend service from Dallas as well as adding a third daily flight from its Charlotte hub.

Those additional flights and seats are expected to generate as much as 21 percent growth in seat capacity for a normally soft month such as October, and close to a 15 percent increase overall for the next six months.

Vernice Walkine, NAD's chief executive, meanwhile said a combination of factors drove the airport's strong summer performance. These included powerful marketing campaigns, deepening partnerships with airlines, and a nearly 30 percent increase in arrivals from Canada through July 2018.

"Nearly every major airline that serves The Bahamas market has increased its capacity, thanks in part to deepening marketing partnerships and renewed interest in New Providence as a result of the opening of the final phase of Baha Mar, and unprecedented levels of marketing by Atlantis, Baha Mar, Sandals, the Ministry of Tourism and the Nassau/Paradise Island Promotion Board," said Ms Walkine.

NAD reported an overall passenger increase of 6.2 percent for its financial year that ended on June 30, 2018. July was even stronger, up seven percent over the previous year, with August projecting similar results.

Between February and June 2018, five airlines added flights or switched to planes with greater capacity to serve LPIA. In March, Southwest Airlines added a second Fort Lauderdale flight. Delta upgraded its Atlanta flights, adding 50 seats a day for the peak winter season, while putting on a second flight from New York's JFK on Saturdays.

American Airlines added 40 seats to its service from Charlotte, North Carolina, while WestJet added 32 percent more Toronto frequencies during Canada's cold winter months. United Airlines upped its flights from Newark airport by 50 percent in March. Combined, those increases netted a record month in March with nearly 182,300 passengers arriving in Nassau.

"As impressive as those figures are, we are even more excited about the positive outlook for the remainder of 2018 and into 2019," said Ms Walkine. "The Ministry of Tourism and the Nassau/Paradise Island Promotion Board plan to further expand their marketing spend to increase passenger traffic.

"Imagine someone sitting at home in the far north, snowed in with freezing temperatures outside, and they look at their TV or device and see families diving into the water, frolicking on the beach, tanned and smiling, wearing a sundress for dinner.

"Industry partners, including the promotion boards, hotels and tourism, are doing a beautiful job of showing what The Bahamas has to offer and the airlines are responding with increased capacity to handle the growth."

Ms Walkine continued: "We want to ensure the best possible customer experience and, toward that end, we are constantly focused on customer service training. For stayover visitors, LPIA is the first and the last impression they have of The Bahamas, and it is up to us to make that impression a positive one."

In March, LPIA earned third place honours when the Airports Council International announced its Best Airports in the Latin America and Caribbean region. More than 600,000 passengers throughout the region participated in the ranking process.

More than 3.3 million passengers passed through LPIA in 2017, with the airport serving 55 destinations via 24 airlines.

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