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Bahamian companies join forces for Cuba flights

Airlines predict more trade, commerce and tourism between two countries
Guardian Business Reporter

Published: Oct 08, 2013

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Two Bahamian companies have launched the country’s newest air service between The Bahamas and Cuba set to begin today.

This is a move executives think will further strengthen business opportunities in the areas of trade, commerce and tourism between the two countries.

During a press conference held at Lynden Pindling International Airport’s (LPIA) VIP Lounge yesterday, officials from Blue Crossings Bahamas and Western Air announced a new air service that will operate three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, departing Nassau at 5:30 p.m. and departing Cuba at 8:15 p.m., using a 33-seater Saab aircraft.

“We have been focusing on the trade and commerce side but of course there are a number of Bahamians now participating in trade and commerce between The Bahamas and Cuba,” said Lindbergh Smith, Blue Crossings Bahamas’ CEO.

“We have been encouraging that and that has been growing tremendously.

“We intend to provide services on the days when [neither] Bahamasair nor Cubana Air fly to give flexibility to the number of persons (who) visit Cuba quite often and in the interim to promote commerce and trade between The Bahamas and Cuba.”

Smith, who has been living in Cuba for a while, said the access of easy, affordable transportation has been identified as an impediment to trade after analyzing the market over the past four years. But, he is confident this newest service will better facilitate opportunities in business and trade.

Celebrating its 10th year in business, Western Air could be considered one of the major local air carriers.

Recognizing the proliferation of providers in the domestic market, the airline’s director of operations Wolf Seyfert said a decision was made to enter the international market. The airline entered that market three years ago when it provided direct service into Montego Bay and Kingston, Jamaica.

“We looked at the market very diligently and the opportunities in the market and the Cuba service and we decided that the two carriers currently servicing the market are not able to satisfy the demand on the current service levels,” Seyfert said.

“We came together with Blue Crossings and said that there was definitely an opening there we could take advantage of. As a private carrier, we have more flexibility.

“We’re training all of our flight crew to the highest standard, far beyond what the authorities require. Our safety record has been 100 percent. I'm glad to say our service is excellent.”

Since testing the route approximately six weeks ago on a charter basis, Seyfert confirmed that the average load has been 22 passengers, suggesting there is definitely a demand there.

In addition to trade, they are also focusing on tourism opportunities as Smith confirmed to Guardian Business that Western Air will begin flying into Varadero and Santiago de Cuba by year’s end.

“There are a number of European travelers (who) go there and would like to have a second destination to go to. Likewise, we have a number of Canadian visitors (who) come to The Bahamas and want to travel outside to Cuba,” Smith added.

“I think this is all in good relation to ensure that both countries are benefitting from the tourism market.”

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