Bahamians seeking to travel this summer on the national air carrier may find some difficulty finding flights, as the majority of seats for weekend flights in the coming few months have already been secured by Royal Caribbean International.
Bahamasair Chairman Tommy Turnquest yesterday said the home porting arrangement for The Bahamas has caused an uptick in bookings, that while good for the tourism sector, may be frustrating for local travelers.
He noted that “a lot are traveling” and those that do should certainly avoid Saturday flights.
“They’re scheduled flights that Royal Caribbean has secured that we’ve allocated 80 seats on those aircraft, which they have guaranteed. They have up to two weeks in advance to release any of those 80 seats if they wish. The first week is going well and the bookings are continuing to go well. I think if you’re trying to get on a flight to South Florida in the next couple of weeks it’s pretty difficult,” he told Guardian Business.
“I wouldn’t advise you to travel on a Saturday if you can avoid it. That’s a busy day because of the cruise ships. And while home porting started a week ago on Saturday this was the first time that we had movement both ways.”
This past Saturday saw the first movement of cruise passengers in and out of the country through Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA), following the first seven-day Royal Caribbean cruise from The Bahamas as a home port.
While debating the 2021/2022 budget in the Senate yesterday, Minister of State for Finance Kwasi Thompson said airport officials are projecting that there will be more than 3,000 travelers through the main gateway for the next several weekends.
“Following the first seven-day cruise the first movement of cruise passengers through LPIA took place on Saturday, June 19, with approximately 900 passengers or more like a thousand passengers, departing Nassau heading to the United States,” he said.
“The airport can now reliably anticipate heavy arrivals and departures and we saw it on the first cruise that came in, every Saturday and Sunday and estimates are that will grow to 3,500 passengers every weekend by July.”
Tourism stakeholders have in recent weeks lamented the limited airlift to the country, compared with the increasing demand.
Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said last week that the ministry is monitoring closely the concerns raised about the level of airlift and complaints that airline prices from key markets are too expensive.