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Bahamasair eyes higher domestic ticket prices

As the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt throughout The Bahamas, the National Flag carrier says it is eyeing “nominal” ticket price hikes and baggage fees in an effort to increase revenue by $7.5 million annually.

Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar told the House last week that the pandemic and Hurricane Dorian, along with years of deficit spending by previous administrations, had put a strain on Bahamasair and the airline had no choice but to reduce its burden on the public purse; that is make travellers pay more to recoup those losses.

He revealed that a $20 per return ticket increase had been recommended, and added this would boost Bahamasair's revenue by $3 million per year. The airline, he added, would target "ancillary revenue streams" by levying a charge for carrying passenger bags.

The ticket price increases and charge for passenger bags were the recommendations of accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which was hired by the Ministry of Finance to conduct a study on how loss-making state owned enterprises (SOEs) such as Bahamasair can reduce the annual $400m-plus burden they inflict on Bahamian taxpayers to subsidise them.

But the recommendation still puts a burden on taxpayers as the proposal only affects domestic travel, i.e. travel within the country. PwC, which found that Bahamasair had not increased its ticket prices for eight years, called for the airline to better align pricing with the cost of service on its domestic routes between Nassau and the Family Islands. Travel between the islands is more likely to be pursued by Bahamians living in The Bahamas. If you’re still not following, it means it’s going to cost YOU even more now to travel to the Family Islands.

As if recent tax increases, including VAT, and higher electricity bills weren’t burdensome enough on a population that has seen unemployment skyrocket in the last three months.

Observers have called on the government to find more innovative ways to increase revenue that do not require Bahamians to dig deeper into their pockets.

Is this it?

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