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Airport To Seek Extra Fixed-Base Operator

Lynden Pindling International Airport's (LPIA) operator is aiming to grow its revenue streams by seeking an extra fixed-base operator (FBO) after it broke the 4m passenger mark for the first time in 2019.

The Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD), in a statement issued yesterday, said it plans to expand non-aeronautical (non-aviation) revenue streams over the next five years as it bids to turn LPIA into "an economic engine" for The Bahamas.

It disclosed that it will this year seek expressions of interest (EOI) in establishing an additional fixed-based operator (FBO) at LPIA - a move that responds to increased demand for airside land and the steady growth in private aircraft traffic at The Bahamas' major aviation gateway.

The FBO tender is part of NAD's focus on growing its revenue streams. It rebranded LPIA's concessions programme in 2019 and launched a customer-focused campaign, Your Travel, Our Pleasure, just before the holiday season. Two new duty-free retail stores opened in the US departures terminal and the domestic/international departures terminal to bolster the airport's overall commercial portfolio.

And its commercial department will also place greater focus on non-aeronautical revenue generation over the next five years. "As the aviation industry evolves, we're also seeking to evolve as an airport. We are considering the bigger picture looking at LPIA as an economic engine for the country," Jan Knowles, NAD's vice-president of marketing and commercial development said.

"Top priority will be given to the creation of a landside development plan over the next two years to maximise the opportunities available in the immediate airport vicinity."

NAD confirmed that its Request for Proposal (RFP) for an airport hotel, issued last year, has yet to result in the selection of a preferred bidder despite significant interest in the project. However, it pledged to continue pursuing the possibility of having such an amenity at LPIA in the future.

The airport operator did deliver on its promise to complete LPIA's runway upgrade in time to handle the peak Christmas/New Year period's increase in aviation traffic. NAD delivered completed major rehabilitation works on Runway 09/27 (now Runway 10/28) and Taxiway India (now Taxiway Papa). The runway was restored to service on November 29, and the taxiway on December 19, 2019.

The works included a full rehabilitation of the asphalt pavement surface, extending the life of the runway, as well as installing new lighting.

NAD's progress and plans were achieved against a backdrop of 4.1m passengers moving through its three terminals in 2019, representing an 11 percent year-over-year increase based on the calendar year. It marked the first time in its history that LPIA broke the 4m mark.

The airport saw increases in all of its passenger segments, with inter-island domestic passengers up 5 percent; US passengers showing a 14 percent increase; and international non-US passengers finishing the year up 6 percent.

NAD said LPIA, which remained open throughout Hurricane Dorian, accommodated some 1,155 relief flights in the storm's aftermath and waived all landing and parking fees for those humanitarian efforts.

The operator, along with manager Vantage Airport Group, and in partnership with LaGuardia Gateway Partners, created a $30,000 fund to directly support the families of NAD employees impacted by the storm. NAD also contributed $10,300 from its Give. Change. terminal collection box initiative to the Bahamas Red Cross.

During the first four days of September 2019, more than 70 US and international flights were cancelled, causing an 8.7 percent decline in passenger numbers that month compared to the previous year.

By October, numbers began to recover with passenger totals increasing year-over-year by 6.3 percent. Passenger numbers increased by 2.7 percent in November compared to 2018, and by 9.4 percent in December.

Vernice Walkine, NAD's president and chief executive, said: "For LPIA, our passenger numbers continue to recover following the disruption caused by Hurricane Dorian. Immediately after the storm, our partners at the Ministry of Tourism & Aviation, Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board, Out Islands Promotion Board, Atlantis and Baha Mar made a comprehensive and concerted effort to market the destination to the world.

"They undertook an aggressive marketing campaign to drive home the point that the country was open for business, and that the best way to support us was to continue booking vacations here."

NAD began a phased demolition of the former domestic and international terminal building in May 2019. The site will be reserved for potential future terminal expansion, and is currently wrapped in a mural hand-painted by Bahamian artist, Antonius Roberts, and his art students at the University of The Bahamas.

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