A series of fact-finding meetings held this week for stakeholders, from global industry associations to travel agents and hoteliers, will help shape plans for a national strategy on airlift, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA).
Air service development consultants hired by the BTA and Bermuda Airport Authority, in liaison with the Bermuda government and Skyport Bermuda, are developing a long-term air service strategy to cater to a cross-section of stakeholders. The process began with presentations and Q&A sessions at the Hamilton Princess for members of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, local hoteliers, travel professionals, and representatives of the island’s global corporations. Participating groups included the Association of Bermuda International Companies (ABIC), Association of Bermuda Insurers & Reinsurers (ABIR), Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA), Bermuda International Management Association (BIMA), and the Bermuda Hotel Association (BHA).
“This is an important initiative that will examine the needs of not only Bermuda’s tourism industry, but also those of other stakeholders, including our resident outbound and international business travellers,” said Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Kevin Dallas. “Working closely with all those groups and our partners, we have the best chance of creating a realistic strategy to pursue with airlines. We’d like to thank everyone who attended these initial sessions to contribute viewpoints and learn from our experts.”
Atlanta-based Ailevon Pacific Aviation Consulting (APAC) representatives, who met with the government and Skyport during the visit, heard current airlift challenges, ranging from routes to frequency, and also described in detail for session attendees the data and highly competitive aviation environment that can dictate airlines’ decisions and affect pricing and seasonality.
“Our work with APAC is critical to ensuring our goals are achievable and that we have air services that are sustainable,” noted Zane DeSilva, Minister of Tourism & Transport. “We will emerge from this first step in air services development with a sound, data-based plan of action we can all stand behind and execute—the Bermuda government, BTA, the Airport Authority and Skyport. Air service development is an incredibly complex matter and Bermuda’s strategy must take into account not only the diversity of local and visitor priorities, but also the airlines’ priorities in the scheme of large networks.”
Airport Authority CEO Lester Nelson said that entity, in its role overseeing the management, operations, and redevelopment of Bermuda’s airport, was committed to ensuring the island had sustainable air capacity to meet diverse and evolving needs. “Stakeholder engagement is an important early step in identifying these needs and gaining broad community support for the air service development process and outcomes,” he said. “We thank everyone for their contributions to the process thus far, and look forward to continuing to work with APAC, and our colleagues at the BTA, the Ministry of Tourism & Transport, Skyport, and others to create and capitalise on new air service opportunities.”
APAC Managing Directors Brad DiFiore and Oliver Lamb applauded the process and noted consensus on strategy was critical to jurisdictions’ success in achieving airlift growth. “The conversations we had were very helpful in terms of understanding the air service needs of Bermuda residents and visitors alike,” said Lamb. “Hearing directly from businesses, hoteliers, travel agents, government, Skyport and other groups shows how collaborative Bermuda is in developing a strategy for sustainable air services. We’re so grateful for all the feedback and inputs, and we’re looking forward to working with the BTA, the Airport Authority and all stakeholders to build this important part of Bermuda’s future.”
Attendees also agreed this week’s sessions were fruitful and that any national strategy should be collaborative and inclusive.
“The interactive discussions proved to be both informative and constructive, permitting our members to have direct input in identifying the ongoing challenges we face,” said BHA CEO Stephen Todd, a BTA Board Director. “The sessions also allowed us to provide feedback and recommendations to positively influence both the stability and future growth of airlift, which is of critical importance to our overall economy, and that of our industry as a major employer.”
Added BHA President Tim Morrison, General Manager, Hamilton Princess & Beach Club: “Accessibility to a destination is a key factor when deciding where to vacation,” “Having aviation experts onboard ensures we have the best voice at the table when identifying and negotiating new routes with our airline partners.”
“I think it’s great for the industry and the island if we can get a sustainable strategy in place that we can work towards, and one that benefits both the corporate and leisure markets,” said Nagma Walker, General Manager, Rosedon. “I support this process 100 percent.”