Airline courtship survives storm

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Government's courting of airlines to increase air traffic to and from Bermuda is continuing despite the current slump in passenger numbers.

And Airport general manager James Howes is confident that the devastation wrought by Fabian will not affect the long-term growth of the award-winning hub.

  • Work at the Airport continues to bring it back to its pre-Fabian standard.

    Work at the Airport continues to bring it back to its pre-Fabian standard.


Government's courting of airlines to increase air traffic to and from Bermuda is continuing despite the current slump in passenger numbers.

And Airport general manager James Howes is confident that the devastation wrought by Fabian will not affect the long-term growth of the award-winning hub.

Just days before Hurricane Fabian hit the Island, Transport Minister Dr. Ewart Brown revealed that a delegation of officials including Government representatives and Airport officials were to undertake a tour of US carriers to try to promote Bermuda and increase flight traffic.

Despite the Airport suffering $6.5 million damage and passenger numbers slumping by 40 percent, the long-term expansion plan is still a matter of priority.

"The whistle-stop tour continues," Mr. Howes told The Royal Gazette.

"Although I must admit the agenda has changed slightly. We went to meet with US Airways officials in Washington and we found ourselves talking about the current problems and how services would have to be cut back.

"But we did discuss the original long-term issues and I am pleased to say the talks were positive.

"We will also be going to speak with American Airlines officials in Miami later this month and continue to visit the other airlines as scheduled. It is business as usual and plans to expand air traffic in Bermuda continue."

Other long-term plans at the complex involve improvements at the Airport itself, with both the buildings and the site set for upgrading.

Reconstruction of roofing on hangars and the main terminal building will see more sturdy structures used so that winds of up to 120 mph can be withstood rather than just the pre-Fabian 60 mph threshold.

Mr. Howes also revealed that work to strengthen the shoreline would get underway to protect the site both from future natural disasters and day-to-day degeneration. "The Airport is very vulnerable due to its low-lying position," said Mr. Howes.

"One of our long-term aims is a major project to reinforce the shoreline.

"Even before the hurricane, there had been erosion steadily taking place for years.

"We are looking to build up the shoreline to provide an increased level of protection."

And the manager was keen to praise staff who had helped get the airport up and running so soon after the hurricane.

Six security staff spent the night at the Airport while others clambered over rocks on the Causeway to get in for work on the weekend after the hurricane.

"They are all my heroes," added Mr. Howes.

"That was not my favourite week in Bermuda, but they say they that adversity brings the best qualities out in people and that certainly happened at the Airport during the hurricane.

"It is remarkable that we have an airport that was had a direct hit from a category three hurricane and then was open 72 hours later.

"I am very proud of the staff here and grateful for their hard work and that of the Bermuda Regiment to get this vital facility up and running so quickly."

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