By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Exuma-based tourism operators yesterday voiced optimism that the long overdue $65m redevelopment of the island’s airport will finally bring its key international gateway into the 21st century.
Keno Turnquest, marketing director at Island Boy Adventures, told Tribune Business: “This should give the island a huge boost. We have been waiting on a new airport for quite some time now.
“A larger airport could facilitate more flights coming, and makes it a lot more comfortable. If you’ve been to Exuma and you see the small departure area as it is, it’s like, come on, let’s be real, it’s 2021. The airlift into Exuma has tremendously increased over the past few years and we need a bigger airport.”
Mr Turnquest said the existing airport cannot accommodate the larger Boeing 777 jets, only the smaller 737 aircraft, which include the American Eagle jets that fly in twice daily.
He added: “Then we also have Silver Airlines. They come in here with the ATR once or twice a day, and it depends on their schedule and how much airlift they have - how many passengers they have to move back and forth. But, on a regular basis, we are talking about maybe anywhere from four to five international flights.”
Rebecca Lightbourn, general manager of Exuma Watersports, said she was “excited” for the new airport, adding that there are “definitely opportunities for us to actually be at the airport and be able to promote or advertise as people land, or just be able to provide a much smoother arrivals and departures experience. This certainly only enhances the overall island.
“Right now, because our market is so very limited, since three of those four international flights that come in are coming in from Florida, right now we don’t get people who want to fly direct from New York or who want to fly direct from Boston and places like that. Those east coast locations. We’re currently not getting that, so it would be nice to be able to expand the market.”