Losses suffered by Bahamasair during the mandated evacuation assistance the airline provided for Grand Bahamians and Abaconians after Hurricane Dorian, means the airline will have to seek new revenue sources or have government increase its annual subsidy, or both, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday.
D’Aguilar, who made the remarks during his mid-year budget speech in the House of Assembly, said the evacuation efforts carried out by Bahamasair, removing it from its regular schedule, took a toll on the airline’s revenue last year.
He added that the company also lost revenue because both of those islands closed off airlift for a period of time.
“The free flights it was mandated to provide during the evacuation, the loss of business from its lucrative Abaco and Grand Bahama routes, and the effects of Hurricane Dorian on travel to and from The Bahamas immediately following the storm, have taken a financial toll on the flag carrier,” D’Aguilar said.
“Bahamasair will, therefore, have to look at other revenue sources to mitigate these losses or seek an increase in its subsidy… or both.”
D’Aguilar said last year that the airline posted about $2 million in losses due to Dorian.
He explained then that 13 flights from Treasure Cay evacuated 765 passengers; 13 flights from Marsh Harbour evacuated 1,065 passengers and 12 flights from Freeport evacuated 1,250 passengers to Nassau.
He said the government would provide more details on the airline’s plans to somehow make up for the revenue shortfall during the 2020/2021 budget debate in June.
The airline took another blow at the beginning of this year, when its older Boeing 737s were banned from flying into the United States until upgrades were made to those planes’ navigational equipment. D’Aguilar said this has been fully rectified.
“Bahamasair has now completed all the necessary technological upgrades to their navigational infrastructure to allow for their older Boeing 737s to fly into the United States,” he said.