As Bahamasair begins commercial operations again today, its reduced schedule will continue to constrain its operational capital, after the company hemorrhaged almost $10 million during its three-month shutdown due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Bahamasair Chief Executive Officer Tracy Cooper said on Thursday, adding that most Bahamasair ticket offices will not reopen.
Cooper, who was speaking at a Bahamasair press conference, lamented last week that the airline will likely see a 20 percent reduction in its schedule compared to last year, as it continues to pay out millions in static costs while not decreasing its staff despite three months without revenue due to COVID-19.
“The truncated schedule will not impact the staff,” said Cooper. “It will impact the amount of revenue we make to support the staff.”
Cooper said only two of Bahamasair’s ticket offices will be reopened in the wake of COVID-19, as the company moves more toward electronic selling, similar to global airlines.
“The offices that will remain open will be the Palmdale office in Nassau and the airport administration building in Freeport, those are the only two places that you will be able to buy tickets,” he said.
He said the individuals who staffed the closed offices have been relocated throughout Bahamasair’s operations.
He added that in order to increase operational efficiency, one of Bahamasair’s oldest 737 airplanes will be retired and a jet capable of carrying 138 passengers brought into the fleet by September.
Cooper said the older jet will likely be retired in early 2021.
Meantime, the jet will continue to be used during the airline’s new reduced schedule within The Bahamas and when international travel, anticipated to begin in July, is once again allowed.
“We will continue to fly a truncated schedule until we see how the demands are and based on the demand coming into the airline, we will then adjust ourselves accordingly,” said Cooper.
“We look forward to phase five, where we’ll be able to provide an [international] component to this and expand the schedule. But we don’t anticipate really starting a true summer schedule until somewhere around the last week of June or first week of July.”
“Globally, and here in The Bahamas, we anticipate that there will be a suppression related to travel demands and therefore it will not makes sense just to fly airplanes around.”
The company, as it begins service again today, will require all passengers to wear masks, will not have food or beverage service and will require passengers to arrive early for their flights, Cooper said.
He added that Bahamasair will not take any seats out of its inventory, as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has found that the risk of viral dispersion in an airplane is minimal given that passengers face away from one another, the air flow is top to bottom and that air is cycled continually through HEPA filters.