The estimated cost of evacuating Hurricane Dorian survivors from Grand Bahama and Abaco to New Providence could top $1 million.
Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said while the exact figure isn’t known just yet, he anticipates the total will be a costly hit to government expenditure.
“It hasn’t been quantified into a number, but I’m sure for as many days as they did it, I forget specifically how many and the number of flights that they did, I’m sure it’s in the hundreds of thousands if not the low millions,” D’Aguilar said yesterday.
“Mobilizing a plane, the opportunity cost of that, the cost of the fuel, the staff, all of that was at a cost to the government.”
In the immediate aftermath of Dorian, Bahamasair was criticized for charging survivors up to $75 to be evacuated.
The airline later apologized for a misinterpretation of its evacuation policy and pledged to reimburse those who had paid.
Despite its challenges, D’Aguilar said Bahamasair has proven to be an asset to the country, particularly in catastrophic situations.
“But it’s one of the advantages of why we have Bahamasair. Yes, Bahamasair costs the treasury a whole heap of money every year, but it’s in catastrophes like this when we can call on it to move our citizens from affected areas,” he said.
“We did it with Hurricane Irma back in 2017 and this is one of the advantages, albeit at a cost, for having our own national carrier.”