By Ian McMurtry
Bahamasair Plans to Avoid Cutting Staff, Expanding Roles
Bahamasair is once again the main talk of the government as the airline copes with the effects of COVID-19 on the island. The airline is currently looking to avoid shrinking its 595-person workforce as the airline has offloaded most of the airline’s costs from the carrier to the government at least until the airline stabilizes under the current conditions. Bahamasair says that the airline is currently still not at a point of making consistent revenue as COVID-19 ravages its operations.
“All of these agencies are impacted by the fact that travel has been significantly reduced, and the Government is exploring options on when and how to restart and relaunch Bahamasair but understand that even in the United States there has been a substantial decrease in the amount of service and vast amounts of people have exited the aviation business,” said Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar.
He added, “[Bahamasair] are having to rely almost exclusively on the Government to subsidize their weekly payments. So you can see it is not flying, or it has very little business, and there is just no way that it can support the fixed costs of that airline, which are very, very substantial.”
The airline’s payroll currently sits at $3.5 million, which the airline does not pay, as of summer, when the transition happened. However, other fixed costs and variable costs and the loss of revenue have still left the airline in a dire state. Even prior to the pandemic, Bahamasair had struggled to break even often defaulting to the government to bail themselves out of debt obligations.
Meanwhile, other salaried members are preparing to expand their roles at the airline as government officials are pursuing adding airline personal to the list of those responsible for contract tracing. The Minister of Health Renward Wells hopes to turn 80 Bahamasair staff into contract tracers as a way to monitor the spread of COVID-19 around the islands.
Bahamasair has not been flying to the U.S. since mid-summer when the island isolated itself from the mainland to reduce the amount of COVID-19 cases as the island saw a spike when U.S. flights were operational. Bahamasair still operates inter-island routes using ATR 42s and 72s on a limited schedule as it continues to weather the current storm.
The airline is also planning no fleet cuts as it will hold onto its fleet of ATRs and Boeing 737-500s to help rebuild its route map once the pandemic ends.