Bahamasair’s flight 141 today was the first international commercial flight to leave the island since Hurricane Dorian struck the island and Abaco some three months ago. With 35 passengers onboard, inclusive of Minister of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction the Hon. Iram Lewis and Mrs. Heather Lewis; Deputy Chairman of Bahamasair, Rudy Meadows; as well as officials from the Ministry of Tourism and representatives from other government agencies, the flight departed Freeport shortly after 9 a.m. Mentioning two important factors the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness is focusing on, Minister Lewis said the flight encompassed two of them, infrastructure and economy. “We are killing two birds with one stone. Infrastructure, the airport is up and running; and from the economy position, tourism is now up and running.”
He continued, “This is a very important day in our recovery effort. It is good to be a part of the rebuilding process. I’m happy to see that our own National Flag Carrier was the first out of the gate to bring an international flight into South Florida, our closest neighbor. “It speaks to the world that we are not just lying down but trying to help ourselves and ask them [for] much-needed assistance.” Even though strides are being made in the recovery effort, and Grand Bahama and Abaco are open for business, help is still very much needed.
He said, “It is a very big day for not only Grand Bahama, but The Bahamas because we know Grand Bahama contributes greatly to our GDP and the fact that we can now receive tourists is very significant.” The brief flight to Fort Lauderdale International Airport was just over 30 minutes. Assistant Manager, Harrold Williams, welcomed those on board and added that daily international flights from Freeport would resume on Monday. The group, along with a few passengers, cleared Immigration and was then greeted by Mayor of Broward County, Dale Holness who said that Broward County was saddened by what Grand Bahama and Abaco experienced during Hurricane Dorian, but he was pleased at the connection between Broward County and The Bahamas and he was pleased at how Broward responded and reached out “to, in my mind, one of the most valued neighbours in the world, The Bahamas.”
The relationship between Broward County, South Florida, and The Bahamas, said Mayor Holness, is not only long-standing but important to both economies because of tourism. He pledged his continued support in the rebuilding and redevelopment phase. The flight returned to Freeport, again with a few passengers, shortly after noon and was received by Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson; Harcourt Brown, Permanent Secretary and other government officials.