Grand Bahama News

Western Air’s new terminal gets an A+

Western Air customers, particularly frequent flyers, are raving about the airline’s new terminal at Grand Bahama International Airport which opened on August 27 after four years of construction to restore and expand the facility.

“My husband Warren and I have only flown Western Air between here and Nassau since their first day of service,” Lena Chandler said.

“We have always loved their entire team and the excellent service they continue to provide. It gives us great pleasure to congratulate Western Air on their new terminal. It’s beautiful!”

Karen Ingraham said, “Western Air is the only airline I travel with.

“The staff is always very pleasant and helpful. The airline is always on time. I won’t travel on any other airline.”

Member of Parliament for Central Grand Bahama Iram Lewis applauded the owners of Western Air on the opening of the terminal and for sticking with the Grand Bahama community after experiencing the devastation of Hurricane Dorian.

“Western Air is one of those companies that stayed and reinvested in the island, and did so in a bigger way,” Lewis said.

“They added more aircraft, more staff and now have reopened an expanded terminal. I think they are doing wonders for the island, particularly with domestic flights, taking a lot of the pressure off Bahamasair in helping with the routes.”

Lewis said Western Air proved its commitment to Grand Bahama for the long haul.

“That should be an encouragement to others to not only invest but reinvest in Grand Bahama. They are certainly a good fit to the local industry and I wish them all the best,” he said.

Western Air was established in 2001 by husband and wife team Rex and Shandrice Rolle.

The privately owned airline, which is headquartered at the San Andros International Airport in Andros, opened its first passenger terminal in Grand Bahama on September 5, 2015.

But in 2019, Hurricane Dorian devastated the airport, including Western Air’s multimillion-dollar facility, as well as the international and domestic terminals.

The airline’s executives worked quickly to restore services for passengers, constructing a temporary building, with promises to reopen an all-purpose terminal.

But six months after the storm, the COVID-19 pandemic bought the world to its knees, restricted daily activities and slowed business of all kinds.

“If you live in Grand Bahama or Abaco, it is as if you went through a once-in-a-lifetime hurricane twice because we went through Hurricane Dorian and shortly after, we went through COVID,” said Vice President of Operations and General Counsel of Western Air Sherrexcia “Rexy” Rolle.

“We are profoundly grateful to have moved back into the terminal, which has been a long time coming.”

Rolle said there were numerous delays and logistical issues with construction on the new and expanded terminal.

“But here we are,” she told Grand Bahama News, adding that the facility is better than ever.

“We’ve made a lot of improvements in the terminal. We utilized some of the most advanced security technology that’s on the market for security screening; we expanded the arrival and departure lounges, and we still have some key features.”

Those include a children’s corner, which the airline staff refer to as the “Kids’ Flight Deck”, and there is a full service deli and bar.

 Rolle said it is important for Western Air to demonstrate quality service to its Grand Bahamian customers.

“It is always important for us to create that experience that makes our passengers feel cozy, comfortable, and makes them feel welcome and at home,” she said.

“That is an extension of our service and so, we are happy that the terminal is finally restored and we can proceed with getting settled in and work towards additional projects.” 

In the pipeline for Western Air is a Freeport to Ft. Lauderdale route, which Rolle said is the most requested destination.

She said discussion is ongoing in terms of implementing that service, as well as reviewing the possibility of a New Providence to Jamaica route.

“However, we are taking our time in just wanting to ensure that we cover our bases and steadily add routes that people have requested.” she said.

Businesswoman Lynn Adams said she was quite pleased with the airline’s new terminal.

“I believe they were the first carrier to start flights following the hurricane,” Adams said.

“The management was able to have a building in place to service passengers, and when we were able to move as the pandemic was easing up they were on point as well, which was incredible.”

She congratulated Western Air on a job well done.

“The new facility is spacious, comfortable and just all around nice,” Adams said.

“I travel frequently to New Providence and I fly Western Air because they are always on time and the staff is pleasant.”

Adams’ only disappointment is not having some cover when heading to the aircraft during a rainstorm.

“If that can be worked out somehow, it would be great,” she said “but all in all, the new terminal is wonderful.”

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