In a significant milestone since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) processed 9,353 departing and arriving passengers in one day, Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) Vice President of Marketing and Commercial Development Jan Knowles said yesterday.
Although below 2019’s historic numbers, Knowles said this past weekend’s crowd is a step in the right direction, given that just last year LPIA was a ghost town.
To put it in perspective, in early April, LPIA’s US and international arrivals data sheet estimated approximately 2,200 arrivals on a busy day. In all of January 2021 there were just over 12,000 foreign visitor arrivals by air.
The airport was particularly busy because of the new home porting cruises sailing from Nassau’s cruise port, combined with increasing stopover visitor arrivals.
This led to long lines as hundreds of travelers queued at check-in counters over the weekend, nonetheless Knowles said the processing of both the home porting and land-based passengers went well last weekend, with the exception of one airport partner experiencing challenges. Knowles said that partner has assured NAD that it is correcting those challenges for this weekend’s operations.
“Last week, outside of the challenges at check-in, queues for departing passengers flowed as expected in both preboard security screening and US preclearance. The arriving passenger process was smooth for the second week in a row, thanks to Bahamas Immigration and Bahamas Customs,” she said.
“The airport’s outdoor garden lounge was well-received by passengers and we will continue to offer the experience to travelers that may arrive early to the airport, or if there is a need to meter passenger entry into preboard screening and US preclearance.”
Earlier this week, Bahamasair Chairman Tommy Turnquest told this newspaper that the airline was being blamed for backlog challenges at the airport on Saturday that it was not solely responsible for.
Adding that he was tired of people “piling onto Bahamasair”, Turnquest noted that the airline will implement a new strategy to pre-check in cruise passengers before they leave their ship and encourage them to pay baggage fees online.
Knowles said the pent-up demand for travel to Nassau is certainly welcome news for the recovery of the tourism sector, given that more and more Americans – The Bahamas’ main tourist market – are becoming vaccinated. However, she said tourists must be cognizant of the changes to travel brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It must be noted that airports all over the world are facing significant pent-up demand for passenger travel this summer, following the travel restrictions of the past year. Passenger processing at all airports takes longer, given COVID-19 protocols and as such Bahamians traveling should be aware of important tips for travel this summer that can be found on the airport’s website and social media channels,” Knowles said.
“The key to easy travel this summer will be to arrive at the airport 3 to 3.5 hours prior to your scheduled departure time. If your schedule allows, avoid travel on Saturdays and Sundays and select less busy days like Tuesday or Wednesday. Schedule flights for before 9:00 a.m. or after 2 p.m., which is the airport’s peak travel window. Most important, the United States requires a negative COVID-19 test result for all persons, whether they are vaccinated or not. Passengers must be tested prior to arrival at the airport.”