AirTran to fly to Baltimore, Atlanta
Low-cost airline AirTran Airways is to launch daily services between Bermuda and Baltimore and Atlanta next spring.
Cheap flights aimed at attracting visitors from two of America's key markets will run from April to October from Baltimore, Washington; and from May to September from Atlanta, Georgia.
Announcing the move yesterday, Transport Minister Terry Lister said it would make Bermuda available to 45 cities throughout AirTran's network, including New York, Boston and Orlando. “This seasonal service offers visitors an alternative, a more economical option to travel to the Island,” Mr Lister told a press conference.
“I trust that this new service will be a success and that AirTran will continue to serve Bermuda's residents and visitors for many years to come.
“This is part of an ongoing effort to make Bermuda one of the most connected little islands in the world.”
It follows negotiations with AirTran lasting around five years, with former Premier and Transport Minister Ewart Brown particularly keen to set up a link with Atlanta; back in 2006 Dr Brown stated the Georgia capital was a major gateway to Bermuda.
There are no minimum revenue guarantee agreements in place, but details including air prices were not available yesterday.
Tourism Minister Patrice Minors described AirTran which services much of the Caribbean and Mexico as one of the top three low-cost carriers in the States.
Mrs Minors said: “The Ministry of Business Development and Tourism welcomes this wonderful news of direct service by AirTran Airways.
“Atlanta, Baltimore and Washington, DC, are all key target markets for our Ministry. We are simply thrilled at the marketing potential of Bermuda to an even wider target group of business and leisure travellers.
“By offering a new, nonstop air service this spring AirTran will help make Bermuda a convenient and appealing international destination in the cities it services and beyond.
“And with this latest addition Bermuda's unprecedented expansion of airline service continues to be the envy of our surrounding region.
“During a time when air carriers are scaling back their service, this partnership is a testament to the confidence that AirTran Airlines has in Bermuda as a premier business and leisure jurisdiction.”
Shadow Tourism Minister Cole Simons congratulated Government on the news yesterday.
“This will help breathe more life into Bermuda's tourism industry. We know that AirTran has a strong parent, a rich history of qualified personnel, and its recent acquisition offer by Southwest Airlines adds value to Bermuda, and the airline's brand,” said Mr Simons in a statement.
“Bermuda should look forward to developing long-term profitable relationships with our airline partners. We want a real commitment to Bermuda.
“Having said that though, we in the Opposition encourage and welcome healthy airline competition here in Bermuda.
“The by-product will be very attractive airline ticket prices, which should really capture the US travelling public's attention. In addition, the global reach of this carrier should provide us with the required additional tools, to help further penetrate the US east coast, and the US mid-west.
“The price of an airline ticket always acts as one of the primary keys, which open the door to one's vacation, or to a short weekend getaway.
“It is a proven fact that, once the ticket cost is defined, the destination is next defined, and the rest of the trip, the hotel, ground transportation, restaurants and all other activity will fall into place. So it is imperative that we continue on the path of providing attractive airline prices for flights to and from Bermuda.”
However, Mr Simons questioned how much the move would cost taxpayers through concessions and what commitments AirTran had made to Bermuda.