The government will allocate $1 million to provide airlift into Grand Bahama over the summer, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said.
D’Aguilar told The Nassau Guardian, “The government is going to allocate some money to deploy the additional Bahamasair aircraft to enhance the amount of lift from South Florida into Grand Bahama.
“It was identified that the costs to make that short leap from South Florida into Grand Bahama have risen quite significantly primarily because, with reduction in hotel inventory, it seems evident that airlines reduced the amount of capacity into Freeport by a greater amount than the reduction demand.
“So, when you reduce supply by a greater percentage than demand it leads to an increase in prices, and the residents and the visitors to Grand Bahama have noticed if you’re flying from South Florida, which obviously is quite a significant market for Grand Bahama, it has led to an increase in prices.”
The minister’s comments come more than five months after the Sunwing Travel Group announced it would stop flights to Grand Bahama after December 2018 due to an impasse with the government.
In October 2018, Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson said Sunwing proposed that the government pay $4 million every year for a fixed seven-year period to provide airlift for four months.
He said this could amount to a cost of $1 million for one month and the numbers could possibly mean the government would be in essence paying for the cost of every ticket.
If the Sunwing partnership had continued, the government would’ve had “an incredibly huge subsidy”, according to D’Aguilar.
He said the government is focused on getting the Grand Lucayan resort, which it purchased for $65 million last year with the intention of selling, “up and running, and secondly, in the interim, we’re going to provide some additional lift over the summer”.
D’Aguilar said,“I hasten to add that Grand Bahama, based on our analysis, has approximately 775 decent rooms available in its hotel inventory and as you can imagine that is an insufficient number, that’s half of the size of the Grand Lucayan.
“It doesn’t have sufficient scale to interest airline companies in putting in supply. It certainly is not a significant number so it’s very important that we build scale.”
The government hopes to have the resort sold by the end of the second quarter.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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