NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The grounding of Boeing 737 Max series 8 and 9 by most major airlines, following a fatal crash in Ethiopia over the weekend involving the model, is not expected to impact operations at Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA), according to Nassau Airport Development Company Limited’s (NAD) Vice President of Marketing & Communications Jan Knowles.
In an interview with Eyewitness News Online, Knowles was asked how the decision to ground the Max 8 and 9 by the United States and Canada, two countries which have significant air traffic to The Bahamas, will impact The Bahamas and operations at the country’s premiere airport.
Safety regulators in more than 40 countries prohibited flights by the aircraft in their airspace.
“NAD does not anticipate that there will be any loss of air service to Nassau as a result of the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft,” Knowles said.
“We are monitoring the matter closely as our international airline partners that have this aircraft type in their fleet have confirmed to us that they will be replacing these aircraft with other equipment to service the significant demand for Nassau.
The Boeing 737 Max 8 plane took off from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, early Sunday.
The plane was on its way to Nairobi, Kenya.
However, the plane crashed minutes after takeoff, killing 157 passengers and crew.
A crash last October of a Lion Air Max 8 aircraft in Indonesia killed 189 passengers and crew.
Bahamasair does not have any Boeing 737 Max series aircraft in its fleet.
The company acquired a $11.4 million Boeing 737-790 in February from AerCap in China.
Yesterday, Knowles pointed out that for January and February, LPIA experienced record passenger arrivals, with an over 20 per cent increase year-on-year.
She said, “We anticipate this growth trend will continue in March and through the upcoming Easter season.”
As of January, U.S. passenger arrivals were up 21 per cent, while international passenger arrivals were up 17 per cent, compared to the same period in January 2018.
In February, NAD said in 2018 LPIA served 3.7 million passengers, an increased over 11 per cent year-on-year and the largest number of passengers observed since 2007.
NAD CEO and President Vernice Walkine credited its tourism partners’ aggressive destination marketing and the opening of Baha Mar for the record numbers.
“Last year, we saw a significant increase in passenger traffic at LPIA due largely to the promotion of Nassau/Paradise Island in key markets,” she said.
“The demand for the destination also grew with the opening of the Rosewood property at Baha Mar, signaling the completion of the mega-resort.
“Our outlook for 2019 remains positive. Based on performance indicators, we are being conservative in our overall projections, however, we expect to maintain the passenger levels achieved in 2018.”