Categorized | Featured, National News

Bahamasair Suffers Million Dollar Loss from Evacuations


Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar revealed yesterday that Bahamasair probably suffered a loss of millions of dollars by offering free evacuations to residents of Abaco and Grand Bahama following Hurricane Dorian.

“It hasn’t been quantified into a number, but I’m sure for as many days they did it and the number of flights that they did, I’m sure it’s in the hundreds of thousands, if not the low millions,” D’Aguilar said yesterday.   

“So you know mobilizing a plane, the opportunity cost of that, the cost of the fuel, the staff, all of that was at a cost to the government.  But it’s one of the advantages as to why we have Bahamasair.”

The minister of tourism and aviation pointed out that although Bahamasair costs the Public Treasury a lot of money each year, it’s during catastrophes like Hurricane Dorian when the government can call on the national flag carrier to transport citizens from affected islands to non-affected islands.  

“We did, of course, with Hurricane Irma or Maria back in 2017 and this is one of the advantages, albeit at a cost, for having our own national flag carrier.”

While Hurricane Dorian has left many tourists with a choice of whether to visit The Bahamas or not, D’Aguilar believes visitor arrivals will decrease.

“I was very optimistic in mid-August where I was quite convinced that we were going to hit the seven million tourist mark and I was very upbeat.  Obviously, I would have to revise those projections,” he said.

“We have lost Grand Bahama and we have lost Abaco.  Between the two of those destinations in 2018, we received 1.1 million visitors. About 200,000 were stopover between the two destinations and the balance was cruise passengers. 

“Obviously, especially Abaco would be significantly impacted and the question is are those passengers going to relocate to other portions of The Bahamas or are they just not going to come. So it’s still early. It’s still exactly one month from the storm and our numbers for the month of September have not been put together yet, so we can really see what the impact has been.  

“So there is no doubt that in 2018, those two islands represented about 17 percent of our foreign visitor arrivals.  So that is a huge number and our overall visitor arrivals are going to be impacted.  

“In addition, all the negative public relations about The Bahamas being wiped out and destroyed and all that sort of stuff have impacted those islands that were not impacted and so it’s going to take time to rebuild that.”

However, D’Aguilar said the Ministry of Tourism is working to spread the message to the world that 14 of The Bahamas’ 16 destinations were not impacted by Hurricane Dorian and they are still open for business.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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