US-based airlines adjust their operations following travel ban

United States-based airlines are reviewing how they operate to The Bahamas following Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ announcement that, effective Wednesday, commercial flights bringing passengers from the US would not be permitted.

Noting that The Bahamas is an important part of its network, American Airlines yesterday told Guardian Business it looks forward to resuming flights once the country’s borders are reopened to commercial flights from the United States.

In the meantime, the airline stated it will continue with its scheduled flights until Wednesday – when the ban comes into effect – and provide flights to its passengers seeking to leave the country by the end of the week.

“American has proudly served The Bahamas for more than 30 years. We are currently operating three daily flights to Nassau, two from Miami and one from Charlotte; one daily flight to George Town and one daily flight to Eleuthera. Both of these flights are from Miami,” said Laura Masvidal, the representative for the airline’s corporate communications for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Per the new government directive, we will continue to operate our five flights to/from The Bahamas until Wednesday. To assist customers that need to return to the US, we will operate one daily flight from each of the three destinations to Miami on Thursday and Friday. The Bahamas is an important part of our network and a popular destination. While for competitive reasons we don’t provide load factors, we can say that there was strong interest from customers since our restart on July 7. Once restrictions are lifted, we look forward to return.”

Corporate Communications representative for Delta Airlines Elizabeth Wolf said the airline is taking similar measures as it “is reviewing plans to operate to The Bahamas”.

“We will operate our three scheduled fights between Atlanta and Nassau this week, but we’ll only be accommodating northbound customers (those traveling from The Bahamas to the US) on the flights on July 24 and 25. We’re continuing to evaluate the need for additional flights to repatriate customers to the US,” she said in an emailed communication with The Guardian.

In a press release issued yesterday, the Ministry of Tourism confirmed that US-based airlines would be permitted travel into the country after Wednesday, when the borders close, to accommodate any current visitors scheduled to return to the United States.

“After July 22, private flights and charters from the United States, as well as pleasure craft and yachts, will be permitted throughout the islands of The Bahamas, with the exception of Freeport. Travelers from Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union are exempt from the emergency order. All visitors are required to present a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test from a referenced lab, taken no more than 10 days prior to the date of travel,” the ministry stated.

“Since opening borders to international travel on July 1, The Bahamas has unfortunately experienced a deterioration in conditions relative to COVID-19. These restrictions have been put in place to protect the health and well-being of both residents and visitors, which remains of primary importance and to prevent the spread of the virus throughout The Bahamas. The Bahamas is reviewing and is being guided by the most effective practices from around the world. Reopening of borders will continue to be monitored and guided by the Bahamas government and health officials, based on COVID-19 trends,” the ministry added.

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