Delta's Nassau to New York Flights Suspended

FIERCE competition from low-cost carriers has forced Delta Airlines to suspend their daily non-stop service between Nassau and New York, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

Ministry officials stressed the flight suspension was brought on by Delta's "economic" issues and not a falloff in consumer demand for flights from New York.

The ministry, and a representative from the Bahamas Hotel Association, said New York remains one of the strongest markets for the Bahamas due to connecting flights through south Florida gateways that supplement passengers brought by direct flights.

"Delta Airlines has announced their decision to end their non-stop service between New York's La Guardia Airport and Nassau for economic reasons. The decision was not influenced by loads, or demand for their Nassau service but rather due to yields, as an increasing number of low-fare carriers offered fares well below Delta's seat cost with one-stop options, primarily over the south Florida gateways of Miami and Ft Lauderdale," said a statement issued by the ministry.

Basil Smith, chief communications officer, said the ministry does not expect the tourism industry to suffer significantly from the flight suspension because the country is seeing an influx of passengers through other gateways.

"So there's no net loss to us," said Mr Smith.

Frank Comito, executive vice president of the Bahamas Hotel Association; agreed: "We never like to see any discontinued service but our numbers from New York have been good. The other airlift that we get out of New York and the connecting airlines can certainly accommodate the needs for these areas so we don't (expect to) see considerable impact on it.

"Between Jet Blue, Continental Airlines, and the connections through our other gateways in New York, we've held up fairly strong in the market."

While Delta's pullout represents a loss of some 50,000 seats the ministry explained that air arrivals to the Bahamas have recently seen a growth from South Florida and Central Florida with a combined increase in capacity at some 109,000 seats over the past 12 months - more than twice the capacity lost by Delta's withdrawal, said a statement issued by the ministry.

The release added that the Nassau and Paradise Island airports - already "well positioned" with up to three daily non-stop Jet Blue services from airports in the New York area and up to two daily services from Newark by Continental Airlines - are attracting even more New York area visitors through the cheaper Florida gateways of Miami, Ft Lauderdale and Orlando.

"Fares from these gateways are generally lower than the non-stop due to the economies of scale that carriers enjoy by feeding into short haul, higher frequency service options over Florida," said the statement.

Source: The Tribune