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Bahamasair Loses $2m Over Dorian

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Bahamasair Loses $2m Over Dorian

Unread post by bimjim » Thu Oct 17, 2019

http://www.tribune242.com/news/2019/oct ... er-dorian/

Bahamasair Loses $2m Over Dorian
NEIL HARTNELL Tribune Business Editor
Thursday, October 17, 2019

Bahamasair’s Hurricane Dorian-related losses “quickly spiral” above $2m due to a combination of evacuation costs and lost commercial flights, a Cabinet minister said yesterday.

Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation, said the national flag carrier had lost revenue from cancelled flights over the “heavy travel” Labour Day holiday weekend in the US in addition to incurring extra costs from evacuating 3,080 persons from Grand Bahama and Abaco on 38 flights.

“I am advised that the losses sustained by Bahamasair because of the passing of Hurricane Dorian quickly spiral above the $2m mark,” the minister told the House of Assembly during the debate on amendments to the Disaster Preparedness and Response Act.

He added that Hutchison Whampoa, Grand Bahama International Airport’s 50 percent controlling owner, had promised the Government they will have the storm-ravaged facility open for international flights next month with a target date of November 15.

However, Mr D’Aguilar said the return of US pre-clearance facilities to the island was “sketchy”, with Bahamians travelling to the US from Grand Bahama now requiring a visa unless they travel via Nassau.

“Freeport was completely flooded, once again, and every single building at that airport was significantly impacted by a storm surge in excess of 20 feet. Once again, Mr Speaker, many of the buildings will have to be condemned and rebuilt, and the operator of the airport, Hutchinson Ports, is contemplating the way forward,” he confirmed.

“Right now, Mr Speaker, that airport is only open for scheduled domestic flights - Bahamasair and Western Air - but has not yet been cleared to receive scheduled flights from overseas.

“Hutchison Ports have assured the Government and the residents of Grand Bahama that they will operationalise that airport for international flights by the middle of next month, hopefully by 15 November, but reports are sketchy on when the pre-clearance facility will re-open.”

Turning to Abaco, Mr D’Aguilar said the destruction of the Treasure Cay airport had caused the Government to “seriously consider” turning it over to a private company or fixed base operator (FBO) to manage. Marsh Harbour, too, had sustained “substantial damage” and is understood to require a $5m investment to get it ready for international flights.

As for Dorian’s impact on tourism, Mr D’Aguilar said stopover arrivals from key US and Canadian markets are projected to be down by 12.3 percent and 15.3 percent, respectively, for September.

“Forward bookings for arrivals in October are expected to be down by 10.6 percent, November is expected to be down by 10.9 percent, and December is expected to be down by 4.4 percent,” Mr D’Aguilar said.

“Airlift capacity to The Bahamas increased by 17.2 percent in August and was expected to continue to increase, especially from the US and Canada to the end of this year. On the whole, airlines have indicated to us that they see anticipated growth in bookings for the end of this year and through to the first quarter of next year to The Bahamas.”

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