Noting that summer activity was stronger than expected, Bahamasair Chief Executive Officer Tracy Cooper said while the airline recouped about 60 to 65 percent of 2019’s numbers, things are still wanting on the domestic side.
“The additional movements were mostly on the international side. The
domestic side did not recover as greatly. We would have had something like 60-65 percent of what we had in 2019,” he said in an interview with Guardian Business.
The Bahamas welcomed well over 400,000 tourists into the country during the period from May to July, after suffering from a significant decline of regular monthly visitors in 2020, when the country’s borders remained closed to commercial activity for the majority of the year.
The decision by two major cruise lines to home port in The Bahamas – as the United States (US) maintained the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) no-sail order – boosted arrivals, Cooper said.
“The summer was stronger than expected. We had the home porting exercise by Royal Caribbean and Crystal Cruises and the movement of those passengers over the summer helped out Bahamasair immensely. We had a better-than-anticipated summer, given the fact that we were still in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic. June, July and August were pretty strong months for Bahamasair,” he said.
“Things have died down because Royal Caribbean concluded its home porting. Obviously, because we’re a tourist destination, both the US and Bahamians would have gone back to school, college or high school. Therefore, we saw a drop-off. And of course, September was an election month and there was an uptick in COVID-19 activity. So, all of that kind of helped to suppress travel and we were not as strong for September as expected.”
As the new Davis administration transitions to governance, Cooper said there is uncertainty of how existing and new policies may impact the national air carrier.
“Obviously, with the new government, they have to get all of their pieces in play and those conversations would have not been had as yet,” he said.
The government has been cautioned for years to divest itself of state-owned enterprises like Bahamasair, which continue to be subsidized to the tune of tens of millions of dollars each year.
During the pandemic, the government injected upward of $50 million into Bahamasair to keep it operational.