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Johnson: Plan to reduce fueling costs for Family Island carriers

Guardian Business Reporter

Published: Oct 25, 2013

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Recognizing that The Bahamas is an expensive destination to visit, Director General of Tourism David Johnson said there are plans to reduce fueling costs for aircrafts traveling to and from Family Islands.

Currently, the tax on aircraft fuel stands at seven percent, a figure that many carriers have been calling “exorbitant”.

Johnson, who spoke at the 8th annual Exuma Business Outlook on Wednesday, revealed that traveling to the Family Islands is considerably more expensive than Nassau and this is unsustainable.

“If you look at travel between the other islands and the U.S., the airfares are almost comparable to Europe,” he said.

Johnson noted that Exuma has been one of the more fortunate Family Island destinations that have had more favorable airfares, along with Abaco and Nassau.

“Unless we have critical mass, air ticket costs will get even higher than they are. Exuma is fortunate to have more favorable airfares that any other island besides Nassau and perhaps Abaco,” he said.

Beginning in December, major airlines like Air Canada and Delta have added new flights to its itinerary to service Exuma. Next month, Silver Airways will launch non-stop service from West Palm Beach to North Eleuthera and Freeport, Grand Bahama.

The tourism director general stressed the need to attract more reputable charter companies to service the Family Island destinations.

“We also need to reach the stage where we are attracting aircraft that are not regional jets or smaller aircraft, that just by the design happen to be inefficient compared to the mainland jets.”

Recently, tourism officials attended the World Routes event in Las Vegas and met with more than 20 carriers that expressed interest in helping The Bahamas to meet its airlift needs. In fact, Vernice Walkine, president and chief executive officer of Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) told Guardian Business she is confident the country can generate the additional airlift that will be needed.

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