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Bahamasair ready to resume operations once go-ahead given

Bahamasair Chairman Tommy Turnquest said the last month has been a very difficult one for Bahamasair, as it continues to rely on injections from the government to pay salaries.

“It’s been very rough,” he said.

“There have been no operations since 28 or 29 July. We are awaiting the government’s indication with regards to first, the domestic travel, and then secondly, international travel.”

Asked how long he believes the company can continue in this manner, Turnquest said: “We can operate as long as the government wants us to operate, but the government has to support it.”

He added, “We are not making any revenue. So, we are reliant on injection by the shareholder.”

During the budget debate, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis revealed that the government was considering cutting the salaries of Bahamasair staff as the airline struggles in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, asked about the matter on Monday, Minnis said no decisions have been made yet.

Turnquest said Bahamasair is currently awaiting funding from the government to pay salaries on Friday.

“We have paid salaries to date,” he said. 

“A salary is due again on Friday. We’re in discussions with the government to fund that. Once that’s funded, we’ll pass it on. But we’ll make absolutely no money from lack of operations and we have no reserves, unfortunately.”

As The Bahamas began recording its first cases of COVID-19 in March, Minnis implemented a number of measures to curb the spread of the virus, including the closure of the country’s borders and a ban of domestic travel.

While domestic and international travel briefly resumed in June and July, a second wave of infections again resulted in the shutdown of the local travel industry, with Minnis again banning domestic travel at the end of July.

Turnquest said the time has been used for training.

“We have a new operating system and so this is a good time for staff to get involved in the training,” he said.

“We’ve been looking at the finances in terms of the outstanding payables, what our cost of operation, types of operation, how we’re able to operate in a more efficient manner.

“So, we have been using the time constructively, in my view. The executive management, managers, supervisors and the line staff have all, in my view, realized that they are getting paid and they had better add some value and I think they are adding value by undergoing the training.”

Turnquest said the airline is ready to pick up where it left off as soon as it is allowed to resume operations.

“We have the maintenance team going in,” he said.

“They’re turning over the engines. We have sanitized everything. We’re doing what we need to do to be ready. So, the key is to make sure we’re able to operate.”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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