Reps. assure evacuees will not be charged for transport
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamasair, the national flag carrier, has been ordered to cease charging airfare for Hurricane Dorian survivors evacuating from Abaco and Grand Bahama to New Providence and could have to provide refunds to those who have been charged, according to Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA) Director General Captain Charles Beneby.
Bahamasair recently announced that airfare from the two storm ravaged islands to New Providence was $75. However, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that there would be no fee for evacuees.
A photo of a purported Bahamasair manifest, which showed ‘paid’ next to the passengers names, made the rounds on social media. While the company maintained that the voyage was free, evacuees alleged being charged by Bahamasair agents in Abaco.
During a press conference on Saturday, Beneby insisted that the BCAA did not give approval for any airline to conduct commercial operations. When questioned about the airline in question, he admitted that Bahamasair was at fault.
“Yes, that is true”, Beneby said. “They have been ordered to stop, so they are no longer charging. The flights are free and I suspect.. I don’t want to speak out of turn, but I suspect that those persons who would have paid will have their monies returned.”
Bahamasair received widespread backlash as a result of its decision to initially charge evacuees.
An evacuee, who did not wish to be named, lamented that she and her family were charged during a time of crisis.
“I think its poor that they would make such demands when they know we have lost everything ..with only the clothes on our backs. Thank God the couple hundred dollars I had on me didn’t wash away in the storm because like so many others who didn’t have it to pay I would have been stuck.”
B.J Newbold, another evacuee, called the matter disgraceful.
“At a time when you have nothing they refuse to let you leave because you do not have the funds,” he said. “I think it’s disgraceful.”
Bahamasair representatives acknowledged the incident was unfortunate and assured that all flights for evacuees travelling from Abaco and Grand Bahama to New Providence are free.