By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Abaco Chamber of Commerce’s president has voiced concern over whether there will be sufficient demand to sustain American Airlines’ return to the island which starts today.
Ken Hutton told Tribune Business that the resumption of the carrier’s international service to Marsh Harbour was “a tremendous boost” for Abaco’s post-Dorian recovery effort, but questioned whether it would attract sufficient load factors given that much of the island’s resort and second home market is still rebounding.
“It’s great to have them back,” he said. “The issue is going to be making sure the flights are full. The other issue is where are these people going to stay? I’m pretty confident the Cays are coming back, but if you’re looking at staying in Central Abaco and Treasure Cay it’s not going to happen.
“I just hope we can get enough lift to keep and expand the service. My concern is that we don’t have enough tourist accommodation available to keep those people in.” Mr Hutton added that Green Turtle Cay appeared to be recovering fastest of all, together with the likes of Man O’ War Cay, Elbow Cay and Great Guana Cay.
He is not the only one concerned about generating sufficient load factors to keep American Airlines interested. One message, seen by Tribune Business, confirms: “American Airlines will resume Miami to Marsh Harbour service effective February 13, 2020. At present, American Airlines has plans to offer one flight per day.
“There is one major concern, however. The bookings for Miami to Marsh Harbour are very low, which means that this flight could be cancelled due to the lack of traffic. In order to keep this service, your immediate support would be most appreciated.”
The Ministry of Tourism, in a recent update, said Abaco hotels that are open and welcoming guests include the Abaco Club on Winding Bay, the Sandpiper Inn, the Delphi Club, the Black Fly Bonefish Lodges, Abaco Breeze, Oeisha’s Resort, Pete & Gay’s Guest House, Moore’s Island Bonefish Lodge and R&S Motel in south Abaco.
In central Abaco, the Abaco Hillside Plaza, Calypso Hills Hideaways and Abaco Inn on Elbow Cay gave re-opened. The Abaco Beach Resort and Marina in Marsh Harbour is also open for business, but resort services are limited.
As for North Abaco, James Inn, M&M Hotel, Millie’s Guest House, Linton’s Cottages, Cay’s Resort Ltd, Cooper’s Cove Motel, Island Bay Front Hotel, Joleeka’s Motel, Josey Wales and Sassy Cassie Motel are also ready to receive business.
Other properties that have set dates for Spring 2020 including Firefly Sunset Resort and Green Turtle Club Resort and Marina
“Though the road to recovery has been challenging, we are confident that the Abacos will be back stronger and better than ever before,” said Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation.