By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Domestic travel has yet to produce a significant rebound for Bahamian airlines and charter operators, with some suffering an 80 percent drop-off despite the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
Lori Roach, director of Golden Wings Charter, told Tribune Business: “ There have been a lot of requests for people that want to go to the Out Islands. I don’t know if it’s that a private charter is cost prohibitive for a lot of people, but the holiday weekend was just really not that busy. A lot of people are requesting flights, but a lot of people aren’t actually purchasing them.”
She voiced concern that Bahamasair is crowding out smaller airlines and charters, adding: “I don’t know if the addition of Bahamasair flying domestically has helped the locals to travel to the Out Islands cheaper than a private charter.”
Domestic travel resumed on June 8, and Ms Roach added: “Business hasn’t really picked up too much for us. Normally summer is a busy time for us because people in the states have their kids out of school, so they go on vacation.
“A lot of our customers are international, but I really don’t anticipate it picking up too much because I don’t believe that everyone is travelling like they normally do. Ms Roach also has her “fingers crossed” and hopes business increases, “but it doesn’t look like it right now because we would be booked for the summer already. We are down by 80 percent right now”.
Nathaniel Gibbs, general manager of Southern Air, said: “Things are looking okay. It has not picked up considerably, but it’s getting there. There is no comparison. Last year we had tourists, so at this time of year there is no way I can compare that.”
Mr Gibbs said he cannot tell if more Bahamians are travelling domestically, and added: “Right now we are only carrying domestic travellers, and the load is manageable.”