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Bahamasair eyeing collaboration  with Caribbean airlines

Bahamasair is already in talks with other airlines to see how The Bahamas can be more closely linked to the rest of the Caribbean through the collaboration of the region’s airlines. FILE

Bahamasair is eyeing collaborative sharing with multiple Caribbean airlines that could lead to more efficient inter-Caribbean travel and the opportunity to book these multiple airlines through a single window, Bahamasair Managing Director Tracy Cooper told Guardian Business yesterday, adding that there has been interest from within the region in travel north to The Bahamas.

Cooper explained that Bahamasair is already in talks with other airlines to see how The Bahamas can be more closely linked to the rest of the Caribbean through the collaboration of the region’s airlines.

“There are multiple airlines within the Caribbean; each of us need to provide the connectivity and scheduling,” said Cooper.

He added that Bahamasair will not be providing new airlift into Caribbean destinations, as it already has flights into Cuba, Haiti and Turks and Caicos, where connections to other Caribbean islands can be acquired.

Cooper said the collaboration between the Caribbean’s airlines will not necessarily make regional travel cheaper, but more efficient, especially given that many people now have to travel to Miami to connect to other Caribbean islands, which requires that they are eligible to fly into the U.S..

There hasn’t been much demand from The Bahamas for travel into the wider Caribbean, Cooper explained. But information from travel website Expedia last year revealed that The Bahamas saw the biggest increase of inbound travel from within the Caribbean. Expedia explained in an email to Guardian Business last year that intra-regional travel is on the rise.

“Based on flight ticket sales purchased via Expedia group sites, the Dominican Republic, The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago are the leading destinations for travel from Caribbean origins to a Caribbean destination,” Expedia said.

“The leading outbound markets are Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago and The Bahamas.”

Expedia noted that while international travel (outside the Caribbean) is still big business for travel sites used by Caribbean residents, they are increasingly traveling within their own region, embracing the Caribbean product.

Expedia’s data was based on flights occurring between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017 in a year-on-year comparison with 2016. Expedia found that there was a 15 percent increase in the demand for tickets from Caribbean travelers to a Caribbean destination, “approximately three times the growth rate of international inbound travel”.

Cooper said the difficult side of creating the linkages within the Caribbean will be finding common ground on taxation between all of the islands. He said these things are being worked “even as we speak”.

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