Despite the ongoing threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Bahamasair Chairman Tommy Turnquest said the airline will continue to fly into the United States until “every Bahamian who should be home, is home”.
Turnquest admitted there has been a slowdown in bookings, with the airline managing a load factor of less than 30 travelers on outbound flights to Miami and Fort Lauderdale yesterday.
“I don’t want to give you the booking numbers because there’s been a variance on the booking numbers on both sides. We’re finding that persons are just coming to the airport and saying ‘I’d like to go home’ and we accommodate them. And so, while we may book a small number, sometimes we have a larger number,” he told reporters during a press conference at the Bahamasair hangar at Lynden Pindling International Airport yesterday.
“To give you an example, yesterday out of Fort Lauderdale, we brought back on the jet 110 passengers. With regards to Orlando, this morning we left shortly after 11 a.m. on a 737 and we had 43 passengers going into Orlando.
“We’re not sure the demographics on those flights, whether they’re Bahamians trying to get home. Because we’re noticing that the numbers coming here are higher than the numbers going out. So we believe that there are Bahamians around the world that are trying to get home. And while we’ll be governed by the Ministry of Health and the government, we are minded to continue until we bring all Bahamians that need to be home, home.”
Bahamasair gave members of the media a tour of one of its aircraft to demonstrate the extensive cleaning and sanitization process it has undertaken in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic.
While the United States hasn’t closed its borders to The Bahamas – and vice versa The Bahamas as not closed its border to the U.S. – President Donald Trump has encouraged Americans not to travel, as that nation tries to contain the highly infectious respiratory disease.
“We’re hearing of the president and other senior officials in the United States telling their citizens not to travel, so we have to monitor that. But the majority of Bahamians overseas can drive to Miami, or can drive to Fort Lauderdale, or drive to Orlando and want to come home. We want to make sure that we bring them home. If they have to be quarantined when they’re home then that’s a different matter, but then at least they’re home,” Turnquest said.
“We are very concerned about our frontline staff, the customer service agents, the cabin attendants, the flight crew and those who handle the baggage and other parts.
“It is still a very fluid situation that we are monitoring on a daily basis. We have a COVID-19 task force that has been established and the executive committee of Bahamasair is monitoring that. We’re monitoring it on a daily basis… but we do want to assure the travelling public that we’re doing everything to maintain the safety of the traveling public and the safety of our employees.”