Bahamasair at ‘tipping point’

Former Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin yesterday called on the aviation minister to acknowledge that Bahamasair is in crisis after facing a second major delay in flights in less than a week.

Hanna-Martin said it seems as if “it’s gotten to a tipping point” for Bahamasair.

“It is interesting, however, that [the aviation minister] has yet to properly address the real issue, the elephant in the room, and it is the horrible crisis faced at Bahamasair, particularly during this challenging period,” Hanna-Martin said.

“What he should have been addressing the Bahamian people on is the chronic systemic failures at Bahamasair. The recent delays for up to days at a time of scheduled flights and Bahamians and others being stranded internationally for prolonged periods.”

On Thursday, Bahamasair released a statement advising that due to weather-related challenges, air traffic control held a number of flights on the ground including “flight 320 which was returned to Freeport after holding in the air for 35 minutes”.

The airline said its schedule and the schedules of other airlines were impacted up to two hours.

Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said there were “a lot of annoyed and upset passengers” on Thursday.

He told The Nassau Guardian on Thursday the delays were the result of increased traffic to the airport for the holidays.

“…You put into that mix bad weather, we lost lighting on one of the runways, one of the intersecting runways for a short time and that has led to a backup at that airport,” D’Aguilar said.

He said LPIA under its current operating procedure can’t cope on exceptionally busy days with this amount of traffic, “so we need to step back and see what we can do to mitigate these challenges that are arising because it is not pretty”.

But Hanna-Martin shot that down.

“What we witnessed over the last several days has nothing to do with air traffic services and much to do with serious systemic issues at Bahamasair and the minister should and must account to the Bahamian people in this regard,” she said.

Bahamasair experienced major delays and cancellations throughout the latter part of last week as a result of poor weather, mechanical issues and challenges stemming from a power outage in Nassau.

On Sunday, Bahamasair Managing Director Tracy Cooper said each day had brought a new challenge for the airline.

“It appears that they are risking the historic loyalty of Bahamians to the airline because of these sorts of instances,” Hanna-Martin said.

She continued, “Bahamians love Bahamasair but, you know, there’s a line to be drawn there. You know, it’s ridiculous when it becomes really extreme and in the past several days we’ve seen some extreme things at Bahamasair. The minister [has] not really addressed that.”

On Thursday, D’Aguilar said the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) has commissioned a study “to see what we can do to improve the situation” at Lynden Pindling International Airport.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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