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New direct flights into GB get ‘positive’ early response

Delta to add Atlanta route starting Dec. 19
Guardian Business Reporter

Published: Oct 15, 2013

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As tourism officials aggressively push to generate business for the country, a major U.S airline has announced plans to service Grand Bahama in the next two months.

On December 19, Delta Airlines will begin new daily nonstop flights between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and Grand Bahama International Airport (FPO). The new service is expected to connect those traveling from or through Atlanta to The Bahamas in two hours as well as direct flights and smooth connections back to the U.S.

Andrew Adderley, a member of the sales distribution team at the Bahamas Tourist Office, told Guardian Business that he is confident that the route will do well, following an intense sales mission that was conducted last week. That mission included meetings with travel agents, hotel partners and group sales managers and ended with a cocktail reception. In fact, he confirmed that his team has already been receiving leads about potential group business.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. The Atlanta market was thrilled to know that the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism was dedicating resources to working with the local travel agent community. Based on their RSVP responses and attendance to the event, I think started off the indication that they were thrilled about the opportunity to learn a little more about what is happening in Grand Bahama and to find ways to support the service that’s starting in December,” he said.

“Our goal is to ensure that we fill those 50 seats coming weekly and the 140 seats that are coming on the weekend. We canvassed the area in such a diverse way where we didn’t just talk to the travel agents, but we worked with the wholesaler and the tour operator partners who are delivering the vacation packages and providing those to the travel agents. We also talked to corporate sales people developing group business, and they are talking to meeting planners about establishing and building meetings and incentive groups into the future. Things take about a year and a half to develop, but at least we are planting the seed.”

Flights will depart Atlanta, Georgia, into Freeport, Grand Bahama, Sundays to Fridays at 9:50 a.m., landing in Freeport at 11:48 a.m. The service will depart Freeport at 12:40 p.m. and arrive in Atlanta at 2:35 p.m., operated by the airline’s Regional Jet 900.

On Saturdays, the flight departs Atlanta at 9:50 a.m. and arrives in Freeport at 11:48 a.m. It departs Freeport at 12:34 p.m. and arrives in Atlanta at 2:34 p.m. and that service is operated by an MD-88 aircraft.

Richard Pile, Delta’s regional district sales manager, which includes The Bahamas, Jamaica, Cayman and Turks and Caicos, said the airline is pleased to be able to offer seasonal services between the Atlanta hub and Freeport as part of its plan for continued growth in the region.

“The Bahamas is a popular leisure destination, and Delta is seeking to provide customers the opportunity to visit it,” he told Guardian Business.

“Delta is constantly studying the needs and demand of each market and entity where we are present, always having in mind our customers’ experience as a starting point.”

Currently, Delta has between three to four daily flights from Nassau to Atlanta (depending on the season), one nonstop daily flight from Nassau to LaGuardia, New York, and a winter non-stop daily flight from Nassau to Detroit.

Last August, Delta announced the introduction of a new Saturday seasonal services from Pittsburgh, PA, and Indianapolis, IN, to Nassau in the Bahamas. The service will start on December 21, 2013, and is operated by Delta Connection partner ExpressJet.

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