Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar has confirmed that Leonard M. Thompson International Airport (LTIA) on Abaco is open to international commercial flights, while Grand Bahama International Airport (GBIA) is expected to open to international commercial flights today.
This follows scheduled inspections of each airport that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security were to conduct last week to determine whether the referenced airports are fit to receive those flights.
“Abaco is now open to international flights,” D’Aguilar said on Saturday, “and so that has been resumed.
“Freeport had an inspection this week. There was just one outstanding item and that will be cleared on Monday and international flights will resume on Monday in Freeport.”
Both airports sustained major damage during Hurricane Dorian – the most powerful storm on record to hit The Bahamas – in early September.
Many people have been anxious for the airports to resume international commercial services with the expectation that tourist arrivals would restore economic activity and help the islands return to normalcy.
According to D’Aguilar, for U.S. flights: “The TSA will come to the respective airports and they will first of all inspect the security regime in place.
“Then they will observe an international flight in action to see the implementation of the security regime.
“So they want to observe it actually in motion.”
He added, “You have to sort of line everybody up.
“You have to have the regulator, the operator and the aircraft company all lined up at the same time.
“So in the position of Freeport, for example, the regulator is the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority.
“The operator of course is the Grand Bahama Airport Company, and the airline company providing the international flight is Bahamasair.
“So they all have to converge at the same time. It all has to float.”
Dorian is estimated to have caused $1 million in damage to LPIA, which is owned by the government, and $40 million in damage to GBIA, which is owned by the Grand Bahama Port Authority and CK Hutchison Holdings, in addition to lost tourism revenue.
Bahamasair issued a statement advising that its commercial flights from Florida to Abaco and Grand Bahama were scheduled to resume beginning yesterday and today, respectively.
Last month, D’Aguilar revealed that the government is eyeing the purchase of GBIA.