By Kathryn Campbell
Bahamas Information Services
Nassau, The Bahamas – After months of negotiations, the Bahamas Government, Monday, signed a $100 million contract with Avions de Transport Regional for the purchase of five ATR 600 model aircraft on behalf of Bahamasair, the country’s national airline.
The Hon. Philip Davis, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development referred to the major investment as a “red-letter day for Bahamasair and The Bahamas” and an opportunity to cause the airline to “service designated routes in The Bahamas while seeking to expand its transnational flight operations to service new tourist routes.”
He said it is now “critical” to replace the present fleet in order to maintain the airline’s record of “safe, reliable and economical air service, to render it economically viable in the short-term and to make it attractive to private investors in the longer term.”
The new aircraft comprise three 50-seat ATR 42-600 and two 70-seat ATR 72-600, an upgrade to the existing fleet of Bombardier Dash 8-300’s. The aircraft are expected to be delivered between November 2015 and June 2016. The two 70-seat ATRs will be delivered before the end of 2015.
According to Mr. Valentine Grimes, Chairman of the Board of Bahamasair, the 70-seat models will be used primarily on the Nassau/Freeport/Fort Lauderdale, Nassau/Marsh Harbour/West Palm Beach and Nassau/Exuma routes for heavy, year-round loads.
Mr. Grimes said the acquisition of the aircraft demonstrates “long-term planning and represents the Government’s ongoing commitment to providing unparalleled safety in air service, reduced operating costs, improved reliability and the overall passenger experience.”
Henry Woods, Chief Executive Officer of Bahamasair, in a press statement, said “the choice of ATR-600 aircraft family is a strategic one for us. As we look to introduce a modern and fuel-efficient aircraft into our fleet, with its proven economics, reliability and passenger comfort, we have found the ATR-600 product family to perfectly support our plans to modernize our fleet providing a reliable service to our passengers.”
The signing ceremony was held at the Ministry of Works and Urban Development, JFK, and attended by senior government officials, members of the Board of Bahamasair and representatives of ATR.