Bahamas Close To Sealing American Airlines Deal

The Bahamas is close to forming a mutually beneficial partnership with American Airlines to provide airlift to many Family Islands, the Minister of Tourism and Aviation revealed to Tribune Business yesterday.

Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace said the meeting last weekend with one of the world's largest airlines spurred new interest in airlift to some islands in the Bahamas, outside of American Airlines' already flown routes, "in a way that we have never to this point".

"We have attracted the attention of American Airlines... with them focusing on the individual destinations (of the islands of the Bahamas)," he said.

The minister said American Airlines was not aware of the number of Bahamian destinations in need of service, and had taken an interest in partnering with the Bahamas government/Ministry of Tourism and Aviation.

Mr VAnderpool-Wallace said airlift via the third largest carrier in the US will prove to be a "symbiotic" relationship, as American Airlines seeks to become profitable. The airline reported fourth quarter 2009 losses of $344 million.

"At the end of the day, American lost money in their fourth quarter, but there are a lot of ways for us to allow them to be competitive (in the Bahamas)," he said. "We have to make certain we pave the way for profitable air service."

The minister added that in spite of the many airlines able to service the Bahamas, "they are at the top of the list".

Mr Vanderpool-Wallace said that while American Airlines' costs are often higher, the Government will work with them to reduce costs to the Family Islands.

He also hinted at a major development that will allow this country to service air travellers in a much better fashion, but could not get into specifics.

"It will provide visitors with an experience that makes it easier for them to transit back and forth," Mr Vanderpool-Wallace said.

"Air travel is seen by the customer as a necessary evil; part of their experience," he said. "So it should be painless, easy and as inexpensive a possible."

American Airlines announced last month that it would discontinue flights to Governor's Harbour while changes to the airport's navigational aids were being made. Many Eleuthera resorts immediately felt the fallout from the discontinuation of the flights.

Source: The Tribune
April 28