Harley James


08 Feb 2023 Aviation

Post-covid-19 passenger recovery for the Bahamas' aviation industry

The covid-19 pandemic had a severe impact on the global aviation industry, with lockdowns and travel restrictions leading to reduced passenger numbers worldwide. As an island nation that relies heavily on tourists arriving by air, the Bahamas felt this impact particularly keenly (for further details, see "COVID-19: aviation industry in eclipse?" and "Second eclipse for aviation sector?"). Safety protocols placed a signicant burden on air carriers, and some were forced to implement furlough and redundancy measures in order to stay aoat.

Despite such setbacks, however, the Bahamas aviation industry has made important progress in other areas over the past couple of years:

Various new acts took effect in March 2021, aiming to improve certain deciencies in the Bahamas' civil aviation sector (for further details, see "Aviation 2020: year in review").

The Bahamas signed an air navigation services agreement with the United States in May 2021, thereby transferring the management of the Bahamas' sovereign airspace to the Bahamas for the rst time (for further details, see "Gaining management of sovereign airspace").

The International Civil Aviation Organization carried out an audit of the industry in November 2021, the results of which showed signicant progress from the Bahamas' previous audit (for further details, see "The Bahamas ICAO audit results: great strides made but further progress needed").

Now, it seems there is further good news for the industry: passenger numbers are well on their way to recover from the dip experienced during the pandemic.


Passenger numbers

Passenger numbers 2019-2022

Figure 1 shows the total number of air passengers in the Bahamas from 2019 to 2022.(1)
Between 2019 and 2020, passenger numbers dropped by 72%. A 66% recovery was seen in 2021, followed by a further 71% rise in 2022.


Passenger numbers 2013-2019

Figure 2 shows the air passenger numbers between 2013 and 2019.
Between 2013 and 2017, the number of passengers only saw modest and steady rises. This preceded an 11% increase in passenger numbers in both 2018 and 2019, which may have been caused by an increase in stopover visitors to the Bahamas. The number of passengers recorded in 2022 is roughly equal to the number of passengers recorded in 2015.


Source of passengers 2019-2022

Figure 3 shows the source of passenger numbers from 2019 to 2022.
Most passengers travel to the Bahamas from the United States. This proportion remained relatively consistent throughout the years affected by the covid-19 pandemic.


Overall figures

According to the Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation, the total number of visitors to the Bahamas in 2022 (ie, including passengers arriving by sea) was more than 7 million. Chester Cooper, deputy prime minister and minister of tourism, investments and aviation, cites the hard work of the industry as a key factor in this result:

Countless stakeholders in the Bahamian tourism industry, including our international partners, worked tirelessly to achieve this. We sought to strengthen relationships to open new air routes. We sought to make travel to The Bahamas easier, more accessible, and affordable and took the message that we were open for business during our Missions and provided insight on our wonderful offerings to the world.



2023 outlook

It is still early to speculate on what the number of passengers might be in 2023 and beyond, particularly given factors such as: ination;

recession fears;
demand for sustainability; and growth constraints.

However, it is clear that 2022's numbers are a positive sign. According to Cooper:

What the Ministry of Tourism, Investments, and Aviation are forecasting so far and what forward bookings indicate, is that we are on track to break records in 2023. We don't see this slowing down anytime soon.

For further information on this topic please contact Llewellyn V Boyer-Cartwright at Harley James Law by telephone (+1 242 327 7275) or email (lbc@harleyjames.law). The Harley James Law website can be accessed at www.harleyjames.law.



(1) The numbers indicated in this article reect only enplanements. However, airports track all passenger movements (enplanements and deplanements), effectively doubling the numbers. These statistics are provided by the Nassau Airport Development Company, which manages and operates the Lynden Pindling International Airport.