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AA to introduce Philadelphia flight

Transport minister Senator Michael Fahy addresses reporters at a press conference

American Airlines is set to offer year-round flights between Bermuda and Philadelphia, Senator Michael Fahy announced yesterday.

The Minister of Tourism, Transport and Municipalities added that the move was part of a wider “renaissance period” for the island’s tourism industry, with visitor numbers and hotel occupancy both thriving.

AA will provide a once-a-week winter service from January 14 to April 1 as well as daily connections in the peak summer season.

The airline will operate a 128-seat Airbus 319 aircraft every Saturday during the off-peak months, departing Bermuda at 3.05pm and arriving in Philadelphia at 4.34pm.

The return flight, also on Saturday, will depart Philadelphia at 10.30am and arrive in Bermuda at 1.48pm.

Mr Fahy welcomed AA’s decision to resume year-round service to the island for the first time since 2013, after he and a team of delegates visited the company’s Dallas, Texas headquarters in the summer.

“We’re talking about a renaissance period in Bermuda tourism,” he said, pointing to statistics released by the Bermuda Tourism Authority last week, which showed an 18 per cent increase in vacation air arrivals in the third quarter.

As September figures leapt 31 per cent compared with the same month last year, year-to-date statistics also marked the highest number of vacation and leisure air arrivals since 2008.

“More vacationers visited the island in the first six months of this year than for the same period of any year since 2008,” Mr Fahy said.

“Nearly eight in ten of those growing our tourism numbers are younger people — under 45 years old — which is encouraging news for the prospect of repeat visitors.”

He expressed further optimism for Bermuda’s tourism product, given next summer’s America’s Cup, new hotel developments and the rebound in the Canadian and European economies.

However, Mr Fahy underlined the importance of the island’s populace to “all do our part” in welcoming holidaymakers to Bermuda.

“We must reach back into our history when we instinctively projected the notion that tourism was about all of us,” he said.

“[That was] a kinder, gentler time, when Bermudians — all Bermuda residents — went out of their way to be helpful and accommodating to our tourists.

“A healthy tourism economy makes for a healthy Bermuda, creating jobs and a brighter future for us all.”