Bahamasair is projected to lose more than $50 million this year, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday when asked about public criticism of the airline’s recently announced increase in fares.
D’Aguilar noted that the change is “unfortunate” but necessary given the financial difficulties faced by Bahamasair.
“Bahamasair is going to sustain substantial losses,” D’Aguilar told reporters outside Cabinet.
“At the beginning of the financial year, Bahamasair was projected to require $19 million in subventions from the central government.
“As COVID-19 and the effects of this pandemic have unfolded and Bahamasair has been grounded, yet still paying all of its expenses – payroll, debt service, leases, and rent – the estimated losses for Bahamasair are going to mushroom to well in excess of $50 million.
“And so, the government felt that it has to do whatever it can to mitigate substantial losses and is looking for every possible avenue. And while it’s painful and while we obviously don’t want to do it, these losses are just so substantial that they require intervention and require charging for the first bag and slight increases in domestic fares, which have not budged in eight years.”
D’Aguilar continued, “It’s unfortunate, and hopefully Bahamians will understand the losses of Bahamasair and the fact that the government has made it a policy to not furlough anybody, not sell off any aircraft, as other airlines around the world have done…to safeguard and protect Bahamian jobs, that it does come at a little price.”
Bahamasair announced last week that beginning January 4, it will increase its domestic flight fares and is implementing for the first time a fee for the first checked piece of luggage on international flights.
In a statement, Bahamasair Managing Director Tracy Cooper said the airline has not had a domestic fare increase in the past eight years, noting that the adjustments have become necessary due to the increase in operational costs.
For example, a one-way flight from Nassau to Freeport was yesterday listed as costing $105 on Bahamasair’s website and $222.88 round trip; whereas beginning January 4, the fare will increase to $131.60 one way and $250.88 round trip.
A flight to Marsh Harbour, Abaco from Nassau was $100 one way and $212.80 round trip, and will be increased to $126 and $240.80 respectively.
Regarding the increase in baggage fees on international flights, Bahamasair will now charge $25 for the first checked bag, whereas for many years the first checked bag was free.
The second checked bag remains at $45, as well as the third bag at $75 and all remaining bags at $125 each.
The baggage policy for domestic travel remains the same, the airline stated.