Butler: Domestic airlines not benefiting from air arrivals boost
While the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) is posting significant increases in flight and seat capacity in the last quarter, the chief of a leading domestic airline claims the local airline sector is quietly dying.
Chief Executive Officer of SkyBahamas Captain Randy Butler said while he’s happy there has been a nearly 17 percent increase in visitor arrivals by air to The Bahamas, domestic airlines are not benefiting from the boost.
“I wish I could say I’m glad to see the numbers have increased, but on the domestic side, family island numbers are down. We see Bahamasair bought a number of airplanes and they are now from their business plan putting those airplanes on the domestic market, and they are competing against domestic private airlines and they’re doing that by dropping their prices, creating more frequency to the islands,” Butler said in a recent interview with Guardian Business.
“So, with that plan that’s only a disaster because they’re increasing all the taxes, they’re increasing more of the fees, so I think the government’s plans whether intended or not is to put private airlines out of business.
“I think it’s only a matter of time that you will see that. Quietly people in the industry have been resigning, workers have been laid off and it’s quietly happening but I can tell you that’s happening.”
The most recent official data from the Ministry of Tourism reveals that while air arrivals were up 16.7 percent for the year to date in December 2018, family island arrivals contracted 18.8 percent – a reversal of the 14 percent gains experienced in 2017.
Butler said there is a need for a strategic national plan to outline where the country’s domestic aviation sector is going, and how best governments can support a dying industry.
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