Clear indications that the frequency of commercial airline flights in and out of Bermuda, will not be like it used to be when they resume, once the global coronavirus pandemic subsides, or passes and the start of the ‘New Normal’ arrives.
Minister of Tourism and Transport, Zane DeSilva stated that “all of the airlines serving our country before COVID-19 say they are ready to return to Bermuda once the crisis passes”.
But he said: “The mix of gateway cities, the time of year, and the frequency of flights may not be what we have become used to in years past, at least not initially.
“We should anticipate a gradual resumption of the regularly scheduled air services. We should certainly not expect everything to return to normal immediately.”
Speaking at the latest COVID-19 briefing on Monday, one week after the Government’s announcement of phased reopening plans for Bermuda’s economy, he said now was the “opportune time to update the country” on measures being implemented.
Countless bus commuters were advised that the Department of Public Transportation (DPT) is working to reintroduce the public bus service in the following phases:
Phase 1 – Sunday Public Bus Service operating 7 days per week.
Phase 2 – Full Summer Schedule
But he said there are still some “critical” issues to be resolved” before the island’s bus service can resume.
Those issues include:
- 1.Installation of driver protection screens [sneeze guards]
- 2.Deep cleaning of buses
- 3.Obtaining agreement from the BIU/BPSU for the proposed scheduling arrangements and from the Office of Safety and Health committee for the proposed recommendations
- 4.Installation of hand sanitizers on all buses; and
- 5.Managing crowd control and queuing at Central Terminal
“We expect these issues to be resolved in the very near future and the public will be informed when the bus service is scheduled to resume,” said Mr DeSilva.
“In the interim, all members of the public are welcome and encouraged to use the public ferry service, which resumed on Monday “under a reduced operating schedule with limited passenger capacity”.
The schedule is available at www.marops.bm.
Meanwhile, the bus service to the island’s hospital will continue while the DPT prepares to “additional measures for resuming the public bus service”.
On “the topic of reintroducing flights to Bermuda”, the Minister said: “As an island isolated in the Atlantic Ocean, air service is quite literally Bermuda’s lifeline to the rest of the world, and is critical to many areas of our economy and ultimately has a major impact on our economic wellbeing.
“Air service to Bermuda is always a matter that has to be managed with the utmost consideration, but this is of overriding importance at the present time when considering the potentially menacing role that international travel can play in the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“In updating the public on the current situation in regard to air travel, I would add important words of caution, that by its very nature, this is a constantly changing situation that may improve or may indeed, worsen by the time we reach Phase 4 of reopening, the ‘New Normal’ phase.
“When the time is right for regularly scheduled commercial flights to resume at LF Wade International Airport and non-residents are once again permitted to pass through our borders,” he added.
Service is anticipated to and from the following airports to recommence:
- New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport
- Boston’s Logan International Airport
- Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport
- Toronto’s Pearson International Airport; and
- London’s Heathrow Airport
London’s Heathrow Airport
“The British Airways service from London’s Heathrow Airport will be a ‘new’ service for Bermuda and will replace the previous British Airways service from Gatwick Airport after British Airways consolidated its operations at Heathrow; at least on a temporary basis,” said Mr DeSilva.
“For our tourism sector and for the majority residents travelling from Bermuda, the change from London Gatwick to London Heathrow could have many advantages, particularly given how much easier it is for travellers to connect to other European countries from Heathrow as opposed to Gatwick which has limited European connections.
“In the meantime, we anticipate the resumption of airline service to Bermuda from Philadelphia International Airport and Miami International Airport sometime in the not too distant future.
“However, we would stress that we do not anticipate services from these cities resuming immediately upon Bermuda reaching the ‘New Normal’ phase.
“Like everything else at present, this is subject to change!”
Seasonal Services From Newark, Washington Regan & Charlotte Unlikely To Resume Until 2021
In closing, the Minister said: “All of Bermuda that the seasonal services from Newark International Airport, Washington Regan Airport, and Charlotte Douglas International Airport are unlikely to resume until 2021.
“It should be stated that throughout discussions with our airline partners, the Ministry has been extremely pleased with the responsiveness and flexibility shown. Particularly considering how much turmoil currently exists throughout the global aviation industry.
“At this point I would remind the public of another extremely important reality.
“Dialogue with airlines and winning their commitment to serve Bermuda is really only one-half of the onerous tasks associated with restoring post-COVID-19 airlift to Bermuda.
Public Health Requirements
“I can also reassure the people of Bermuda that the Ministry of Tourism and Transport is working very closely with the Ministry of Health to prioritize a long list of public health requirements that must be implemented to keep our community safe as the time for the ‘New Normal’ approaches,” he added.
“There still remains much work to be done in a multitude of areas as we progress towards Phase 4.
“Our primary focus is to ensure that as an island, we get to this point safely and responsibly.”