NASSAU, Bahamas, Feb 15, CMC – Tourism and Aviation Minister, Dionisio D’Aguilar, says the need for “a national airline today, is greater than it has ever been” and urged the national flag carrier, Bahamasair, to seek full advantage of the various opportunities within the tourism and aviation industries.
D’Aguilar, speaking at a ceremony here marking the arrival of the Boeing 737-790NG to the Bahamasair fleet, asked whether the new aircraft is going to be used to provide support to the existing fleet in order to increase Bahamasair’s efficiency and on-time performance, or is it going to be used to add more routes to generate increased tourism arrivals?
“Here is what I think. As Minister of Tourism and Aviation, the opportunities for Bahamasair are endless,” he said, adding that there are many markets that remain un-served and provide the potential for a high volume of air, stopover arrivals.
D’Aguilar said the Ministry of Tourism and the hotel industry are ready to work as closely as possible with Bahamasair to explore and pursue new growth opportunities, saying “I encourage Bahamasair to heed that advice.”
He said the current airline environment is impacted by a very high level of consolidation which has resulted in fewer airlines with more power and a greater impact upon pricing and by extension, an impact upon this nation’s ability to generate tourism.
D’Aguilar urged airline officials to “be bold” in bringing forth new plans that will help to move the country’s tourism industry forward.
“Arguably the need for a national airline today, is greater than it has ever been. (And) So I would challenge you Bahamasair, to be bold, and bring forth new plans to move our nation’s tourism industry forward.
“It’s not enough to continue business as usual or to do the same thing over and over again, while hoping for different results. After all even the larger airlines like American, Delta and United, saw the need to merge in order to benefit from reduced costs,” he told the ceremony on Thursday.
Earlier, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, underscoring the importance of Bahamasair, said, “the arrival of this aircraft is a sign of our nation’s sustained growth and economic expansion as we continue to see strong numbers from our tourism sector”.
He said Bahamasair will continue to do as their vision statement suggests, which is “to connect the islands of The Bahamas to the world”.
The US$11 million investment of the new aircraft will bring Bahamasair’s fleet count to nine: four jets and five turbo props and Minnis said the vision behind Bahamasair was the creation of a national flag carrier that would connect the islands of the archipelago by providing safe and reliable air transportation that was also affordable.
“What was launched as a national aspiration evolved into an international enterprise,” he said, adding “we boast a fully functional international carrier which is flown, staffed, maintained and led by Bahamians. I can spend time boasting about our pilots, who I believe are some of the best in the world. Two of the airline’s pilots flew this acquisition home from Asia.”
Prime Minister Minnis said the new aircraft, which seats 138 passengers represents a significant shift as Bahamasair has now entered the long-range phase of route expansion and development.
“If we are to grow better, stronger and faster as a nation, we must develop the capacity to go farther in terms of air linkages. Toward this end, this new aircraft is another step in Bahamasair’s international expansion,” the Prime Minister said.
“This increased range opens new doors of opportunity to showcase our far-flung archipelago, through Bahamasair’s network within our Family of Islands, which offers linkages between Nassau and all points within The Bahamas,” he added.
Minnis said that a renewed focus on customer engagement and service is part of the new thrust and defines the way forward for Bahamasair.
“The airline will need to consider and imagine new management protocols, structures and linkages to better serve the demands of the country’s multiple island destination as well as the ever evolving tourism industry.”