The Minister of Tourism and Aviation for the Bahamas, Dionisio D’Aguilar, has proposed pulling state-owned Bahamasair (UP, Nassau International) out of the archipelago's highly competitive domestic market and repositioning it as an exclusively international airline.

Speaking to The Tribune newspaper, D'Aguilar said government must find a way to “encourage and develop” the country's domestic aviation sector while simultaneously withdrawing from it.

“You’ve got lots of private companies who want to do that and who have done that perfectly well, so why do we as the government want to compete with these companies in this market? We want those domestic carriers to begin to, as their capacity grows, fill those routes,” he said.

The transition will not, however, come easy given that about 45% of the airline's total weekly seating capacity (14,820) is dedicated to the domestic Bahamian market. With this number of weekly seats available, Bahamasair is the island chain's largest domestic carrier followed by each of Sky Bahamas and Western Air Bahamas with 5,544 seats/week each, Southern Air Charter with 4,142 seats/week, and lastly, Pineapple Air with 2,299 seats/week.

“There are other routes that we can take, other routes that we can make where we can earn something. We want to explore international routes which we can offer as non-stop direct because those are routes that are less competitive,” he said. “So, as capacity increases, I think we will slowly exit and use our aircraft and resources to try and establish more international routes to bring people here on more non-stop direct flights."

D’Aguilar's comments came after the presentation of the Bahamian budget last month wherein loss-making Bahamasair was awarded a BSD14.85 million Bahamian dollar (USD14.85 million) subsidy for 2017/18.