THE AILMENTS OF BAHAMASAIR
( a call to replace these old Bahamasair planes)
The airline is as old as the nation, best cialis see having risen out of the ashes of the failure of Bahamas Airways and the alleged double crossing of its owners the Swire Group and Out Island Airways and Flamingo Airways. It has never turned a profit. It has in conventional terms always been a losing proposition. The best any manager could say was that he had minimized the losses. It has never had a female manager so maybe that might make a difference but we doubt it. We believe that it now has competent management and staff; it just doesn’t have enough money and equipment. Its shareholders, site the government have so far refused to do anything more than run a maintenance programme of the status quo. In the process, the airline called Bahamasair seems to be in deep trouble.
At one time, the airline was the butt of a slogan: “if you have time to spare fly Bahamasair.” For a time that changed because the airline had a run there when it was reliable and on time. What many people said about the airline in its defence was never mind the question of time, the issue was Bahamasair was safe, having never lost a customer in a flight accident or ground incident.
Today, while that has not changed thank God, the issue of safety looms in the minds of many a customer and staff member as they lose confidence in the airline’s ability to get them to their destinations on time and without numerous delays when there are so many alternatives today to get to their destinations. In fact one executive asks the question when seeking to reshape Bahamasair, with 81 licensed airlines who serve within The Bahamas, with 31 flights going into Eleuthera alone from Nassau every day why is Bahamasair continuing to take two and three passengers a day to destinations in Eleuthera.
In times of plenty, no one would hardly ask the question but in today’s world when the country is scrapping for resources, putting additional taxes on the Bahamian people, and having already put half a billion dollars into the airline in subsidies since its founding in 1973, it is a pertinent question. The question is whether or not Bahamasair can continue to go the way it is going, with the country dumping money down an endless black hole.
To us the answer is it depends. We look at Bahamasair like the roads. We have to maintain them. The roads don’t make you money but you have to maintain them. Same thing with Bahamasair, there is no other way to get up and down an archipelagic country efficiently than by air. If no one else provides a service, then a government airline must do so. Similarly for the international traffic, without Bahamasair, we would be at the mercy of foreign carriers who set prices and when they leave we would have no tourist airlift.
There is some tweaking that can be done in between. One of them is stripping it of routes that private carriers within The Bahamas can do.
On Thursday 24th July, flight to Freeport from Nassau, scheduled departure 12:30 p.m. Get on the plane, doors close. Engines start up. Plane rolls off. Stops. Turns back to the gate. There is something wrong with the front nose wheel. They tell the passengers stay on the plane. They fix it within half an hour. Doors close again and roll off, take off. Midflight, somewhere near the Berry Islands, plane descends, pilot announces due to engine trouble, the plane must return. Get safely on the ground, transfer to another plane, take off safely reach the destination, two hours later than scheduled. Next morning return flight, plane is late arriving for the departure of the first flight from Freeport. Pilot is gesticulating on the ground. Delay is announced because of a problem which will require trouble shooting from Nassau. Fifteen minutes after, board the flight return safely to Nassau.
This was without incident but with a reported engine fire a few weeks ago, and another report of having to turn back, and the chronic lateness and unreliability of the service, this must be affecting the confidence of the staff and the public in the consumer satisfaction sense. The issue is: when does it cross the line from a consumer satisfaction issue to a safety issue. It is also a matter of time before the public starts to blame the PLP as Bahamasair becomes more unreliable. Then it is a political problem. One more in the death by a thousand cuts scenario.
The Dash 8 Fleet of Bahamasair is old. They have some 76,000 landings on them. Their time is simply up; too many problems with old aircraft and pretty soon given the odds, there will be an accident with unfortunate consequences
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. The shareholders need to act as the shareholders have in the case of Trinidad’s National Airline and in the case of LIAT that all bought the Dash 8s the same time as Bahamasair did. Both those airlines have replaced their fleets within the last five years with brand new ATRs from France. There are other alternatives available but before there is an accident at Bahamasair, we are asking the government to make the decision to act to replace these old airplanes. If we make the decision, the cost can be as little as 22 million or as high as 100 million but make it we should and must. Each day, the last state becomes worse than the first.