Bahamas Hotels Relieved At British Airways Strike Block

A decision by the UK courts to block a strike called for by British Airways cabin crew over the Christmas season bodes well for the Bahamian economy, the Bahamas Hotel Association's president said yesterday.

Robert Sands, who is also Baha Mar's vice-president of external affairs, said though aggregate visitors from Europe represent only 10 per cent of the Bahamian visitor - North America accounting for 90 per cent - Europeans tend to be long-stay guests compared to average room nights booked by Americans.

Mr Sands said this made the UK/European market, which receives direct airlift out of London via British Airways, an important one despite its relative size.

"It's an unfortunate state of affairs," he said. "We hope there is some resolution. This is never a good thing for any destination.

"British Airways represents significant direct airlift from London to Nassau, but fortunately there are other routes with significant airlift. However, persons are longing for air access that's direct."

The strike threat was made after negotiations between British Airways' cabin crew union, Unite, and the airline failed to find a solution to proposed staff cuts.

According to online news sources, the court ruled that because many of the signatories on a petition came from parties who had already accepted the company's resignation request, the strike vote was invalid.

It is believed the strike would have affected millions of holiday travellers and cost British Airways hundreds of millions of dollars.

Ms Sands said it was important for any destination that no tourist is disadvantaged. "I think in very difficult times there will always be a balancing act with the operator and their employees," he said. "They will always be trying to negotiate the best possible arrangement for themselves and, if leverage has to be utilized, entities will use what they have to, to force the hand."

He said visitor arrivals from the UK were always important, as they tend to be higher-end leisure and business travelers.

The UK government has proposed imposing taxes on airlines for their contribution to greenhouse emissions. However, it has been reported that this tax would not contribute to global warming mitigation.

According to Reuters, Sir Richard Branson, who owns one of the most successful airlines in the world, Virgin Atlantic, said reduction targets and cleaner fuels would be a better move to curb airlines' environmental impact.

Mr Sands contends that the world will likely have to await the conclusion of the UN Summit on Climate Change to see where the future of airline taxes and costs will stand in the future.

Source: The Tribune