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|UK to Nassau: Additional routes, new airlines|
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|Posted by:||May 4th 2005, 11:46:55 am|
|Fig Tree News Team||New British airline serving Nassau
Press conference for inaugural flight held at NIA
By MINDELL SMALL,Guardian Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
First Choice Airways, a leading leisure airline based in the U.K. began its weekly service to Nassau from Manchester, England on Tuesday.
With much fanfare, its inaugural flight to The Bahamas touched down at Nassau International Airport shortly after at 2:00 p.m. Ministry of Tourism officials held a press conference at the airport's VIP Lounge for the occasion after greeting disembarking passengers.
Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism, Colin Higgs, said the airline would further boost tourism arrivals to The Bahamas from Europe.
Mike Price, First Choice Airways' Overseas Purchasing Director said since ticket sales have been so encouraging, the airline should be able to double its capacity to The Bahamas by this time next year.
On its website, the airline is offering what it calls "Last-minute 2-week vacation deals" to Nassau from Manchester starting at £1157 (or roughly $2,200) based on two adults travelling. It will offer service to Nassau every other Tuesday, arriving here again at approximately 4:30 pm. on Tuesday, May 17.
First Choice Airways is a charter airline, flying mostly for the First Choice Group. It uses 32 aircraft and flies charters and scheduled flights from 18 U.K. airports - transporting nearly 6 million customers to over 60 destinations worldwide. Subsidiary companies are air2000 Engineering, Viking Freight and Viking Aviation.
First Choice was launched on April 11, 1987 under the name "air2000." In May 2004, the name was changed to First Choice Airways, reportedly to increase the continuity of the brand throughout customer's holidays.
Arrives ahead of Virgin
The airline will be competing for the U.K. market with the well-established British Airways and the soon to arrive Virgin Atlantic Airways. However, unlike its competitors, it will not be flying to London but rather to Manchester, a bustling city 160 miles northwest of the British capital.
Virgin Atlantic Airways is already seeing impressive bookings to The Bahamas for this summer though its inaugural flight between London and Nassau is almost two months away, starting June 26.
Vernice Walkine, Tourism Deputy-Director General told The Guardian that The Bahamas' tourism director for Europe, Ellison Tommy Thompson, had been successful in promoting The Bahamas in talks with executives at U.K-based airlines.
"And they've also been meeting with the various hotels trying to put the various packages together so this has been a working progress for months now," she said.
In its push to further dominate the U.K./Bahamas market, British Airways recently increased its direct flights to Nassau from London - now making the 4,300-mile, eight-hour trip six times a week.
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