AND THE IMPACT ON TRAVEL TO THE BAHAMAS On September 11, 2001 the world of travel was changed forever. On this day, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York with airline jets. A jet aircraft hit each of the World Trade Center’s twin towers. Another jet was crashed into the Pentagon in Washington DC and still another crashed outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The airliners involved were American Airlines and United Airlines. Immediately following the attacks, airports all over the United States were closed and only flights that were already in the air were allowed to land. Airlines that were supposed to fly into airports in New York were diverted to other airports. The world was shaken. The world of aviation took a plunge and world tourism suffered a most serious economic blow.
World Tourism was thrown into a crisis as American visitors became afraid to fly. The thought of impending doom hung over the United States and the US government quickly began the difficult task of making America safe again. Very serious questions were posed about airport security and the debate about whether to have the airport security managed by the federal government or private companies began. Countries all over the world had to instate new airport safety measures with great speed. Airlines had to quickly revamp their security policies because only those that adhered to these new security and safety measures would be allowed to fly into US gateways.
The Airline Industry was in crisis. Airlines began the arduous task of revamping their organizations so that they could survive amidst the hard economic times. This revamping included the “downsizing” of their organizations. Millions of Americans now found themselves out of work and Americans in general became more cautious about how they would spend their disposable income. In order to avoid further damage to the American economy and ultimately the world economy, President Bush quickly enacted legislature that would bolster the faltering industry.
Countries all over the world began to experience the effects of that tragic day very quickly. The Caribbean was hit especially hard as many of the countries in this region were very dependent on the US market for travel business. After the attacks, foreign air arrivals to the Bahamas plunged. September which is normally considered a slow month for the Bahamas with regard to foreign air arrivals, suffered all time lows.
The Caribbean and the Bahamas were all faced with an incredible new challenge, How to get Americans and the world to once again resume travel to their destinations? Marketing plans were scrapped or revamped and a new era in travel tourism began.
The Caribbean and the Bahamas were not the only destinations that faced the challenge of getting visitors to travel. States within the United States of America who were heavily dependent on tourism also suffered this dilemma, as did the world. Some Americans were now more likely to go on vacations where they could drive to the destination. This in itself posed serious challenges to the Bahamas. How do you promote the Bahamas as the closer Caribbean, just a few minutes away?
The effects of the terrorist attacks of September 11th were clearly evident in the steep decline in the number of occupied seats on the scheduled airline carriers to Nassau/Paradise Island during the month of September.
American Eagle the largest scheduled air carrier to Nassau/Paradise Island had a decline of 40% in the number of occupied seats (16,113) in September 2001 and operated with only a 44% load factor (number of occupied seats to available seats).
Bahamasair, which brought in the second highest number of passengers (8,863) in September 2001, had a decline of 32% in the number of occupied seats compared to the same period in 2000 and operated with a load factor of 41%.
US Airways brought in 5,621 passengers and had a decline of 11% in the number of occupied seats and operated with a load factor of 55%.
Delta, which brought in 4,826 passengers in September 2001 had a 49% decline in the number of occupied seats and operated with only a 31% load factor.
Continental Connection had a decline of 44% in the number of occupied seats and operated with a 53% load factor.
Continental Airlines, with service from New Jersey, suffered a 73% decline in the number of occupied seats compared to September 2000 and operated with a load factor of only 36%.
Air Canada (with service from Toronto), US Airways (with service from Philadelphia, Charlotte and La Guardia Airport), and Continental Connection (Gulfstream with service from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach) were the only scheduled airlines that operated with load factors higher than 50% during the month of September 2001.
The Canadian charters (Canada 3000 with service from Toronto) operated with the highest load factors during the month of September 2001. They operated with a combined load factor of 77%.
The effects of the terrorist attacks of September 11th were clearly evident in the steep decline in the number of occupied seats on the scheduled airline carriers to Grand Bahama Island during the month of September.
Continental Connection (with service from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach), which was the number one scheduled carrier to Grand Bahama in September 2000, lost its number one position for the month of September 2001 as it experienced a decline of 37% in the number of occupied seats and operated with a load factor of 49%.
American Eagle (with service from Miami and Ft. Lauderdale), which was the number one scheduled carrier to Grand Bahama in September 2001, experienced a 13% decline in the number of occupied seats and operated with a load factor of 49%.
AirTran Airways with service from Atlanta operated with a load factor of 45%.
TWA with service from the New York area to Grand Bahama had a 74% decline in the number of occupied seats and operated with a load factor of 5%.
US Charters (namely Laker Airways), which made up a large part of the airlift into Grand Bahama, operated with a load factor of 45% during September 2001.
Conclusion The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 changed the world of travel forever. As a result of the terrorist attacks, scheduled and charter carriers to both Nassau and Grand Bahama suffered declines in load factors. The attacks primarily impacted the fourth quarter results as the attacks occurred in the last month of the third quarter (September). After the attacks, Americans became afraid to fly and as a result the whole world of travel was severely impacted. The Islands of the Bahamas suffered large declines in inbound passenger traffic in the fourth quarter as did the Caribbean, however the scheduled airlines to Nassau/Paradise Island had had a strong first quarter and as a result the impact of the attacks on the inbound passenger traffic to Nassau/Paradise Island was reduced. The scheduled airlines to Grand Bahama had had a strong first, second and third quarter and as a result the impact of the attacks on the inbound passenger traffic to the island was reduced.
Air Canada, U.S. Airways, Delta, Continental Airlines and Continental Connection operated with the highest load factors of the scheduled airlines flying into Nassau/P.I. from international gateways. AirTran Airways, Continental Connection, and American Eagle operated with the highest load factors of the scheduled airlines flying into Grand Bahama from international gateways.
In 2001, the total number of available seats to Nassau/Paradise Island declined by 4%. The decline in available seats was due largely in part to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The total number of occupied seats also declined in 2001. The total number of available seats for scheduled airlines to Grand Bahama increased by 24% in 2001. This increase was in part due to the addition of AirTran Airways’ flight service from Atlanta to Grand Bahama.
Scheduled and charter airlines to Nassau/P.I. also experienced declines in the total number of occupied seats. Scheduled airlines to Grand Bahama experienced an increase in the number of occupied seats, and charter airlines experienced a decline in the amount of occupied seats. Although U.S charters to Grand Bahama experienced a decline in the number of occupied seats, they continued to be a very important part of the airline mix for inbound passenger traffic to the island.
The summer months were a high traffic season for the scheduled airlines flying into Nassau/P.I. August had the highest flow of inbound traffic and September the lowest. March appeared to be the month with the highest flow of inbound passengers for charter airlines flying into Nassau/P.I., and October the lowest.