By Daniel Morley
Western Air Announces First Flight to U.S.
Bahamian airline Western Air has announced the launch of its first flights to the United States. The San Andros-based carrier will launch flights between the Bahamian capital of Nassau and Ft. Lauderdale on May 19. The flights will be operated on the carrier’s Embraer E145 aircraft and flown twice daily. The flights will be the airline’s first scheduled international flights, previously operating exclusively domestic scheduled flights.
As part of the announcement, the airline also added that approval has been received to operate charter flights from the Bahamas to the United States. For scheduled flights to the United States, Western is offering passengers open tickets, the same ticket style for the airline’s domestic operations. Passengers will have the flexibility to change their flights within six months of purchase with no change or cancellation fees. Travelers will also get a free checked bag with their ticket purchases.
For Bahamians, Western Air has become an alternative to government-owned Bahamasair for domestic travel. The airline was founded in 2001 and has become the largest privately-owned airline in the country. Headquartered in San Andros, on Andros Island, the airline maintains inter-island hubs in the country’s two largest cities, Nassau and Freeport. In Freeport, the airline runs its own private terminal and maintenance facility.
Western Air’s domestic operations stretch across the island nation. Daily jet flights are operated from Bimini in the west to Cat Island in the east of the country. The airline claims to have the best on-time record in the Bahamas and even offers a reward program of the 11th roundtrip being free for frequent travelers.
The airline started operating with various turboprop aircraft including Fairchild Metro and Metroliners and Saab 340s. In 2018 the airline became the second airline in the country to operate jet aircraft with the announcement of purchasing used Embraer E145 aircraft. Deliveries have continued since then and the E145 has become the backbone of the airline’s fleet with five aircraft in service currently. The airline plans to accept more aircraft deliveries in the coming years and continue to expand operations.
The South Florida market is highly competitive for Bahamian travelers. Locals often travel to Florida to complete shopping at lower prices. They also use the area as a launching point for additional travel across the U.S. The Ft. Lauderdale to Nassau sector is highly competitive. In addition to Western Air’s new service, the route is operated by Bahamasair, JetBlue, Southwest, and Silver Airways.
Going the other direction, tourists use South Florida as a launching point for vacations to the Caribbean country. In addition to competition in Ft. Lauderdale, multiple flights a day are operated from Miami to Nassau, as well as from West Palm Beach.