This post originally appeared on Bahamas.com
British Airways (BA) has made a significant investment in the Bahamian economy with the introduction of a larger plane on its direct flights between London Heathrow and Nassau.
On July 1, 2016 British Airways made its inaugural flight with a Boeing 777 to New Providence, officially replacing the much smaller B-767 aircraft. The B-777 offers twice the seating capacity of the B-767 with a 275 seating capacity and it will operate four times a week rather than five times a week.
Ian Blackman, VP Customer Service & Operations for North America and the Caribbean said the airline wanted an overall upgrade for flights to The Bahamas.
“We wanted a bit more capacity on this route and the 777 gives us about 46 per cent more capacity overall but certainly in the Club World cabin, it gives us double the capacity,” Blackman said.
“Going from 24 seats up to 48 seats give us a lot of additional cargo capacity which we hope to exploit locally by uplifting more goods and services in The Bahamas and out of The Bahamas as well.”
Tyrone Sawyer, Senior Director of Airlift Development at the Ministry of Tourism believes that with this change, the potential to increase connecting air arrivals to The Islands of the Bahamas from Europe on BA has grown proportionately.
“In the case of BA, it is not an inaugural we’re actually manufacturing excitement by virtue of the fact that they’re coming with an upgraded aircraft and they’re coming with the ability to bring almost twice the amount of people,” he said.
He added that The Bahamas plans to intensify its promotional efforts to bring more European travelers to The Islands of The Bahamas.
“We’re now looking to our promotional efforts and the marketplace to build the awareness and the demand to therefore fill those seats,” Sawyer said.
Joy Jibrilu, Director General of the Ministry of Tourism is elated with BA’s decision to upgrade the aircraft as it gives travelers the option to maximize their time in the Bahamas.
“The Bahamas has been the only Caribbean destination to have retained and maintained a Heathrow departure,” she said.
“All the flights from other Caribbean countries leave from Gatwick and anyone who travels know that it is much further to get to, much more expensive, normally an overnight stay closer to the airport and it would have effectively eliminated all of our European connections… Not only does it fly out of the UK, it connects with every European city.”
She added that before the upgrade BA used an old aircraft that hadn’t been used anywhere else in the world and it created an issue with The Bahamas as a destination in terms of product.
“It’s about understanding how important a Heathrow departure and an upgraded plane matches the profile of Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA),” Jibrilu said.
The passengers onboard the new aircraft were greeted by the pulsating sounds of the traditional goatskin drum as they entered LPIA. They were also greeted by MOT, Nassau Airport Development (NAD) and BA officials.