Bahamasair made $1.7 million in revenue during the month of December after experiencing an uptick in travel demand, its Chairman Tommy Turnquest revealed yesterday.
While it garnered higher revenues last month than it did during the entire ten-month period since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic locally, the number is still a fraction of the $6.7 million the airline made during December 2019.
“We had $1.7 million in revenue in December. Now, compare that to $6.7 million in December 2019. So, when we talk about really being in financial straits, we’re talking huge numbers. Now, if you take the $1.7 million and compare that against the $940,000 that we made in November, that’s 55 percent growth month over month,” Turnquest told Guardian Business yesterday.
“But, again, you’re talking Christmas. Bahamasair makes its money in November, December, whatever month Easter is in – that’s either March or April and then June, July August. Outside of that, it’s just very, very lean times anyway. We try and look at the positives. We’ve made some strides. We had some commitments to staff that we’ve been able to fulfill. We had owed some persons who had left during the pandemic and they’ve all been paid out.”
Turnquest said the bulk of Bahamasair’s revenue came from flights in and out of Cuba.
“First of all, we only had one flight a day into Fort Lauderdale and so, it essentially went fairly full most days. But you compare that against last year December, we would have had three or four flights a day: a morning flight, a midday flight, an afternoon flight and an evening flight. And we would have flights into Fort Lauderdale and Miami. So, it’s really no comparison,” he said.
“We did see a pickup in December
vis-à-vis November in terms of the revenue, which was quite encouraging, but, again, nothing compared to the same time last year.”
Turnquest continued, “Now, having said that, we were approached by a Cuban wholesaler in South Florida who wanted the Cuban diaspora in South Florida transported. So, we were going into Cuba six days a week – twice into Havana, twice into Holguín and twice into Santa Clara. And the Santa Clara and Holguín numbers were very, very encouraging.”
But just as things were going well, Turnquest said, Cuba changed its travel protocols after experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases.
“And then beginning January 1st, Cuba changed its border regulations and we were only allowed to go to Cuba once a week now. So, we went to Havana on the fourth, we went to Havana again today, next Monday we will go into Holguín and the last two weeks either Holguín or Santa Clara.
“These are rough times and so, we had a window to try and make some money and so, we tried to make it. It got closed fairly quickly, but it is what it is.”
Cuba announced late last month that it would only allow a limited number of flights from the United States, Mexico, Panama, The Bahamas, Haiti and the Dominican Republic after it experienced a more than 70 percent increase in COVID-19 cases between November 1 and December 23 – which the country’s health ministry said was the result of foreign visitors and their family members who inadvertently spread the deadly virus.
Bahamasair has experienced crippling losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the amount of $3.5 million per month since March.
Up until December, the government has supported Bahamasair to the tune of nearly $40 million since March.