Lack of Airlift Detrimental To Family Islands

Difficult and unavailable flight connections are harming the Family Islands' economic growth and the businesses that cater to them, Majestic Tours' managing director for Europe said yesterday.

Theres Saunders told Tribune Business that Europeans have shown a keen interest in booking vacations to Bahamian islands outside Nassau/Paradise Island and Grand Bahaman, but are dissuaded by difficulties in getting airlift.

According to Mrs Saunders, a minor change in Bahamasair's flight itinerary could positively shift the number of visitors to the Family Islands. She said a 5pm flight out of Lynden Pindling International Airport to Abaco, Exuma and Eleuthera could complement British Airways and WestJet arrivals, which often arrive after 2pm in the afternoon.

According to her, many Europeans are not interested in overnighting in Nassau before connecting to the Out Islands. "UK customers don't go to the Out Islands because they cannot come the same day," she said.

The Government has talked for years about solving Out Island connectivity issues at the airport, and Nassau Airport Development (NAD) Company officials have said recently that the renovated domestic terminal will not solve those issues.

Many of the late-evening connectivity issues in the past were tied to the absence of runway lights at many small airports. However, the Government has vowed to upgrade the infrastructure at many of those airports in a bid to increase airlift to those destinations.

Mrs Saunders said the summer months are often OK for late evening connections because of the Spring time shift, but the winter months - often a busy tourist season - are more of a challenge.

"The Out Islands can only sell if you can get to them," she said.

Source: The Tribune