|United Airlines flight will add nearly 4K seats|
Guardian Business Reporter
Published: Jul 12, 2012
A new direct flight from Chicago by United Airlines could translate into nearly 4,000 additional seats each year.
The airline announced its new service for Nassau yesterday as part of a $40 million O’Hare Airport expansion. Beginning in February 2013, direct flights will come to the capital from Chicago every Saturday during peak season.
Obie Wilchcombe, the minister of tourism, said the flights will bring 70 additional seats to The Bahamas each week, although he’s hopeful this number will increase over time.
“We are trying to get them up to three flights per week and this will require us to be very aggressive. We are going to market this because it doesn’t make sense to have the
airlift if no one knows anything about it. For example, in Asia, we have to make sure that they know about The Bahamas,” he explained.
This latest offering followed a declaration from the senior government official that his ministry hopes to attract more than two million airlift passengers to The Bahamas. The country received a total of 1.34 million stopover tourists through last year. Don Robinson, the president of Baha Mar, previously disclosed to Guardian Business that the country needs 400,000 more seats in the market per year by the time the mega resort opens at the end of 2014.
Wilchcombe’s benchmark pushes Robinson’s projection even further.
“We are going after a million more seats for The Bahamas. We don’t have the seats that we need. More airlift is coming. We are going after much more business,” said Wilchcombe. “The whole idea is that the more bodies we get from overnight visitors, the more we are able to complement our tourism industry. We have to make sure that we get airlift because that is key.”
Since taking office, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has identified a number of markets to tap. The minister of tourism noted that Air Canada, now flying into Exuma, is in discussions with the government to begin service to Freeport.
He said tourism officials will be aggressively seeking business in the Asian, North American and Latin American markets.
“We are going to have a deputy director general responsible for North America, and one responsible for Europe and Asia. So we are going after these continents and we are going to get some big business in,” the tourism minister added.
“Our plan is to go after these various markets aggressively so we can have a very diverse program through the various media forms like television, radio, print and social media.”