Bahamasair Holdings Limited is an airline headquartered in Nassau. It is the national airline of the Bahamas and operates scheduled services to 32 domestic and regional destinations in the Caribbean and the United States from its base at Lynden Pindling International Airport.
Bahamasair was established by the Bahamas Government and started operations on 17 June 1973, by acquiring the routes of Flamingo Airlines and the operations and routes of Out Island Airways. The first flight was to Andros Island and the second to Freeport, Grand Bahama. Bahamas Government purchases 51% of OIA and became the majority shareholder and part owner, named the Airline Bahamasair. The other owners were Edward Albury, Gil Hensler and Sherlock Hackley who had 49%. After a few years the Government had most of the shares by purchasing the shares of Gil Hensler and Sherlock Hackley. The only Bahamian owner of OIA still maintained some shares was Edward Albury. By now the Bahamas Government had control of the Airline.
Bahamasair initially encountered operating difficulties, including poor maintenance facilities, economic conditions and company structure. Those factors brought public distrust as a consequential added problem. However, jet airliners started to arrive in the shape of new British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Eleven twin jets including the stretched series 500 model followed by one brand new Boeing 737-200, and in 1973, it opened its first service, from Nassau to Tampa, Florida.
Also in 1973, the government's vision of several airlines discontinuing service to Nassau became a reality, when Pan Am as well as other air carriers decided to stop operating to the Bahamas. This enabled Bahamasair to capture a substantial part of the Bahamas scheduled air transport market.
Through the rest of the 1970s, Bahamasair kept adding flights to other cities in Florida and, domestically, the presence of the airline also grew rapidly. According to the February 1, 1976 Official Airline Guide (OAG), interisland flights were operated with Fairchild Hiller FH-227 and STOL capable de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter turboprops and also with one DC-3 prop aircraft. This same OAG also lists four daily round trip flights between Nassau and Freeport operated by Bahamasair with BAC One-Eleven twin jets.
During the early 1980s, Bahamasair unsuccessfully tried to expand to the Northeast United States, opening flights to Philadelphia, Washington DC (Dulles) and Newark, New Jersey. But in 1989, the airline's directors decided that those routes were not profitable and eliminated them from the airline's route map. Also in 1989, the Boeing 727-200 first came into the fleet. They would acquire a total of two. That was also the year that a new livery and workers' uniform were introduced. The Boeing 727s, however, could not be kept into service long because of political favors and interference, thereby causing the company to lose vast sums of money in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In 1991, de Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8 turbine propellor aircraft were purchased to substitute the whole jet fleet and the Boeing 737-200s were taken out of service. According to the September 15, 1994 Official Airline Guide (OAG), most flights were being operated with Dash 8 turboprops although Short 360 turboprops and Cessna prop aircraft were being operated in scheduled service as well. The Dash 8 was being flown on all scheduled services between the Bahamas and Florida at this time according to this OAG. In 1997, the Boeing 737's returned to service because key routes warranted the cargo and passenger carrying capabilities offered by these jetliners. The 737-200 was deployed to Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Orlando as well as one domestic route, being Nassau-Freeport.
In November 2011, the government discussed plans to replace the Bahamasair Boeing 737-200 aircraft with more fuel efficient and cost effective aircraft. However, it was said that pre-owned Boeing 737-500s may serve as a replacement for the then current jet fleet. In 2012, Bahamasair confirmed they would be taking delivery of two Boeing 737-500s from Aerolíneas Argentinas with a 120-passenger all-economy class layout. The first aircraft was delivered on 30 March 2012 and put into service in April 2012. The second 737-500 was delivered on 21 June 2012. Bahamasair retired their last 2 Boeing 737-200s in September 2012 and received the third and latest Boeing 737-500 from Scandinavian Airlines in March 2014.
In May 2015, it has been reported that the loss-making airline is in a phase of restructuring to gain profitability as advised by the government. This includes new union agreements as well as a planned renewal of the ageing fleet. Shortly after, Bahamasair ordered five new ATR 42 and 72 aircraft during the 2015 Paris Air Show to replace all of their Bombardier Dash 8-300s.
The airline took delivery of the first ATR 72-600 on November 27, 2015.
As of July 2016, the Bahamasair fleet consists of the following aircraft:
|Airbus A320-200||1||Wet leased from Air 2000|
|BAC One-Eleven (series 400 and 500 aircraft)||4|
|Boeing 737-300||1||Wet leased from Islandsflug|
|Boeing 737-400||1||Wet leased from Xtra Airways|
|Bombardier Dash 8-300||7||5 Replaced by the ATR order / 2 write offs|
|De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter||3|
|Fairchild Hiller FH-227||4|
|Hawker Siddeley HS 748||4|
|Short 330||1||Cargo only on wet lease|
|Aero Commander 500S Shrike||4||Twin engine piston|
|Cessna 402-C||3||Twin engine piston|
Its latest livery, which was first introduced in October 2004, has, so far, only been applied to the Boeing 737s in the fleet. It is a white fuselage with a light blue belly and engines, with the airline's name above the windows. The "Bahamas" part of the name is in light blue, the "air" part in red. On the tail is the colourful logo of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. Older liveries are relegated to the Dash 8's, some of which maintained the traditional Bahamian flag colors of black, aquamarine and gold located on the tailfin, including aquamarine and gold stripes on the rearward half of the fuselage since their purchase in the mid-1980s. The newer Dash 8 models remain in solid white livery, yet maintains the Bahamian flag on the tailfin only. All Dash 8's maintain the Bahamasair logo on the top fuselage, near the front doors.
As of the year 2017, Bahamasair has never suffered a fatal accident since its founding in 1973. However, three aircraft have been lost in non-fatal accidents and a weather event:
Media related to Bahamasair at Wikimedia Commons