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Western Air halts Jamaica services

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Web site: http://www.westernairbahamas.com/
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Western Air halts Jamaica services

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Jul 22, 2011

http://www.tribune242.com/Editorial/072 ... _pg-1-Lead

Western Air halts Jamaica services
Tribune Business Reporter
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

WESTERN Air has suspended its flights to Jamaica, as the re-emergence of Caribbean Airlines has brought fierce competition back to that market, the Bahamian-owned airline's director of flight operations told Tribune Business yesterday.

Western Air had previously offered daily domestic flights to Jamaica, but with the larger Caribbean Airlines applying to resume thrice-weekly round-trip service between Nassau and Kingston, Captain Wolf Seyfret said it was simply not feasible to compete.

Nonetheless, Captain Seyfret said Western Air was looking at opportunities to expand elsewhere, and is currently awaiting approval from US authorities to begin offering services to South Florida.

"We have suspended services to Jamaica purely due to the fact that with the re-emergence of Caribbean Airlines, the competition has gotten very fierce. We just cannot match the size of aircraft and level of fares they are offering. At this time it is not feasible," Captain Seyfret said.

"We are kind of going to wait and see if it's going to be feasible for Caribbean Airlines, but obviously Caribbean Airlines has a much larger network than Air Jamaica had, so it's probably economical scales that make it work for them. We are still watching it and we would like to go back again, but at this point it doesn't make sense to compete against an operation like that. Being a local domestic carrier we certainly can't match their marketing strategy and strength."

Captain Seyfret said Western Air was currently awaiting US approval to commence services to South Florida, a process he said usually takes about nine months.

"We are pursuing the US authority approval. We got our Bahamian approval, but it is a much longer process to get the US approval," he told Tribune Business.

"We gathered all of the info to submit to them, and that should be done shortly. We are anticipating within the next six to seven months to get temporary approval to start planning the services. I think we had put in for several destinations, mainly Fort Lauderdale and the Jacksonville market, and we're looking at twice a day flights out of Freeport and Nassau. We are looking at Jacksonville, three flights a week out of that market."

Assessing the domestic market, Captain Seyfret told Tribune Business: "We are still holding our own on the Freeport route, but we do see the passenger figures dropping. I don't know whether it has to do with the season. "September is usually the low month in terms of traffic. The regatta season has been pretty disappointing so far for all the operators. I understand that so far people haven't taken advantage of the regatta season as they did in previous years."

Captain Seyfret said many persons have instead chosen to take advantage of promotions offered by inter-island marine transportation service provider, Sea Link, which is operated by Bahamas Ferries.

"We are hoping that the construction that is now ongoing with the Baha Mar project, and the road construction, will provide a stimulus to the whole economy, and we are confident that will relate to more people traveling. We have just added another rotation to the Marsh Harbour market due to the passenger demand, so we are always looking at opportunities to expand," Captain Seyfret.

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