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Nassau route should turn a profit - Rolle

Published:Saturday | April 10, 2010 | 12:00 AM

WESTERN BUREAU:Aimed at filling the void left by national carrier Air Jamaica, the airline taking over the Nassau, Bahamas route, Western Air, says its first flight to the country is booked solid.

The Bahamian-owned carrier commences flights from Nassau to Kingston as of next Monday, April 12, a day after Air Jamaica suspends that route.

Come May, Montego Bay's Sangster International Airport will be added to the itinerary, the airline's president and CEO, Rex Rolle, told The Gleaner.

Initially, Western Air will fly between Kingston and Nassau from Sundays to Fridays, and between Montego Bay and Nassau twice weekly on Fridays and Sundays.

In an interview yesterday, Rolle quelled concerns expressed by travellers who are not holders of a United States visa, saying that flying direct from Jamaica to The Bahamas eliminates the need to travel through the US. Cognisant of the fact there are many Jamaicans living and working in The Bahamas, he said his organisation had seized the opportunity to ensure there was no disruption to travel.

comparative rates

"In addition to operations and schedules, Western Air is also keeping the transition as smooth as possible, with airfare and baggage rates comparable to that of Air Jamaica," he stated.

Based in San Andros, in the islands of The Bahamas, Western Air, which currently flies between Nassau, Freeport and Bimini, will operate SAAB 340A 33-seater aircraft in comparison with the airbus Air Jamaica operated on the route.

A smaller aircraft on the route is likely to provide a balance sheet in the black, instead of the red for the Bahamian businessman, who said that research and shown that during the high season, Air Jamaica's load factor varied from 47 to 60 per cent. This equates with the possibility of a profit for Western Air, due to the fact their aircraft are smaller and more cost effective.

The investment made on the route is approximately US$108,000 (J$9.5 million), Rolle confirmed with The Gleaner.

Tickets can be purchased in Jamaica from Total Travel Services, 10 Waterloo Road in St Andrew, or from Jamaica Dispatch Services at the Norman Manley International Airport. Once flights commence in Montego Bay, tickets can also be purchased from Jamaica Dispatch Services at the Sangster International Airport.