MIAMI – Bahamasair (UP) is hoping to avoid layoffs for its 595-strong workforce as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. Most of the costs associated with the airline have been passed on to the Bahamian government as traveler numbers have heavily declined.

Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said, “All of these agencies are impacted by the fact that travel has been significantly reduced, and the Government is exploring options on when and how to restart and relaunch Bahamasair but understand that even in the United States there has been a substantial decrease in the amount of service and vast amounts of people have exited the aviation business.”

With the payroll at UP sitting at USD$3.5m, which the airline itself does not pay, and other fixed costs combined with a loss revenue, UP now struggles to break even, even defaulting to the government to bail it out of its debt obligations.

Bahamasair ATR Photo: Bahamasair

New Roles to Keep the Workforce Active

Meanwhile, the government hopes to make use of some of the grounded UP employees, with Minister of Health Renward Wells hoping to train 80 staff members as contact tracers to monitor the spread of COVID-19 around the islands.

Having been without US flights since mid-summer when the island isolated itself to avoid COVID-19, UP still operates inter-island routes with ATR 42s and 72s on a limited schedule.

Planning on no fleet cuts, UP plans on rebuilding a broad route network with its fleet of ATR 42s, ATR 72s, Boeing 737-500s, and Boeing 737-700s as the pandemic eventually recedes.

Featured image: Short Final, MIA Photo: By BriYYZ from Toronto, Canada – Bahamasair Boeing 737-500 C6-BFC, CC BY-SA 2.0