Diversion After Controller Went Home Called ‘Disastrous’

Bahamas Air Traffic Controllers’ Union
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Diversion After Controller Went Home Called ‘Disastrous’

Unread post by bimjim » Thu Aug 27, 2015

http://www.tribune242.com/news/2015/aug ... me-called/

Diversion Of Flight After Controller Went Home Called ‘Disastrous’
DENISE MAYCOCK Tribune Freeport Reporter
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

AN international marketing consultant says the ordeal experienced by the 186 passengers whose delayed Sunwing flight from Philadelphia had to be diverted to Nassau because of air traffic control issues in Grand Bahama was “disastrous” and could potentially create great losses in revenue for Freeport in the future.

Last Tuesday, Air Traffic Controllers at Grand Bahama International Airport shut down operations, forcing the flight to be re-directed to New Providence. The passengers arrived in Freeport around 1pm the following day.

“It is unfortunate that Freeport was and is being used as scapegoat for the union’s issues with the government,” said the consultant, who wished to remain anonymous. “The government should not allow the union to hold the people of the Bahamas hostage. The turn of events was disastrous for GBI and by extension the Bahamas.

“Freeport is too small and the economy is too vulnerable and delicate to take such a hit because the 186 persons with a bad experience is a potential great loss.”

The flight from Philadelphia, which was scheduled to depart at 9.15am on Tuesday, experienced long delays and didn’t leave until 8.30pm. While enroute to Freeport, the pilot informed passengers that the airport in Grand Bahama had shut down and that they would have to fly into Nassau.

The passengers were scheduled to spend four days in Grand Bahama. Instead they had to overnight in Nassau at the Melia Nassau Beach Resort and return to the airport to board a flight to Freeport.

When the passengers arrived at 1pm, they were met at the airport by tourism officials, who presented them with gifts.

One passenger described the ordeal as “the worst vacation of our life” due to the long flight delay and re-routing.

The consultant pointed out that ironically, the passengers would have been staying at Memories, a resort that the government and the people of the Bahamas are subsidising. He said the actions taken were irresponsible on the part of the unions, and also resulted in a tremendous loss to the airport.

“These turn of events also highlight the competence and efficiency of the GB Airport Company in the past who are now no longer responsible for air traffic controllers, but is something that the Ministry of Tourism and by extension the government needs to look at seriously so we can’t have this sort of thing happen again.”

Ministry of Tourism director Betty Bethel and her team greeted the passengers on their arrival in Freeport. They presented visitors with a gifts, including a burlap bag with rum, Goombay Summer Festival t-shirt, and a welcome letter apologising to them for the experience.

Ms Bethel said arrangements were made for passengers on the re-directed flight to be accommodated at the Melia. “I spoke with some of passengers and for the most part they were just very pleased with the arrival experience in Nassau. They said they were greeted at the airport like royalty and well cared for and likewise at the hotel. Despite the fact that there were a lot of last-minute arrangements, they felt that they could not have been better welcomed given the circumstances,” she said.

Sunwing has commenced flights to Grand Bahama this summer on a 189-seat aircraft from eight US cities, including Baltimore, Cincinnati, Columbus, Houston, Nashville, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with four- and seven-night rotations from Newark. The aircraft has an increased seating capacity of 26 per cent.

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