No Fear of Failure – Case Study: Bahamasair

Go Lean Commentary

CU Blog - No Fear of Failure - Photo 3The book Go Lean … Caribbean stresses the need to adopt best practices in the regional airline industry so as to better facilitate the region’s primary economic driver of tourism. The tagline for the book is “a better place to live, work and play”.

The reference to “better” and “best practices” in this case refers to “quality” – a missing ingredient in much of the Caribbean air transport industry. The bad example being cited in this case is Bahamasair, the National Flag Carrier of the Bahamas.

Bahamasair Holdings Limited, operating as Bahamasair, is an airline based in Nassau. It is the national airline and operates domestic scheduled services to 14 destinations and regional scheduled services to destinations in the Caribbean and the United States. Its main base is Lynden Pindling International Airport. It has the same logo as the current Bahamas national tourism marketing logo, but with the tagline: “We don’t just fly there, we live there”.

CU Blog - No Fear of Failure - Photo 2

The story being related in the following article is a far cry from a pursuit of quality, in fact the overriding theme is “no fear of failure” on the part of the airline’s stakeholders; “if we succeed or fail, it doesn’t really matter”:

Title: Bahamasair Flights Cancelled as Pilots Strike
Local South Florida TV Newscasts (Posted 12/23/2014; retrieved 12/29/2014) ––286735471.html

CU Blog - No Fear of Failure - Photo 1Hundreds of air travelers hoping to get to the Bahamas continue to wait for answers as their flights on Bahamasair have been cancelled.

The cancelled flights have left some passengers at South Florida airports for more than 10 hours.

All flights out of Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale International Airport on board Bahamasair that were scheduled for Tuesday have been cancelled. That includes two scheduled arrivals in Fort   Lauderdale, along with one departure from FLL. MIA has seen two departures cancelled along with one arrival.

Miami International Airport has one Bahamasair flight scheduled to arrive at 7:40 a.m. on Christmas Eve that is still on the board as of 8:30 p.m.

NBC 6 has reached out to Bahamasair about the cancellations, but has not received a response.

According to the website, the airline has seen their flights grounded due to a protest from pilots over salary negotiations. The Nassau Guardian reported that the pilots’ union denied it instructed its pilots to go on strike over the negotiations.

The airline told the Nassau Guardian, “Bahamasair is cognizant that this is the height of our peak travel period and we will do the best we can to mitigate any further disruption to your holiday travel plans.”

VIDEO:  – CBS4 Miami Reporting on the Christmas-time Bahamasair Pilots Strike

This airline has an eclectic history, one bred out of the need to optimize economic engines, and yet they have failed so often in their delivery of this charter. Bahamasair was born out of the oil crisis of the 1970s. In 1970, British Airways stopped flying to The Bahamas, and the Bahamian Government accurately predicted that some of the other major airlines flying to the country would follow British Airways’ lead. Bahamasair was therefore established by the government and started operations on 7 June 1973, by acquiring the operations of Flamingo Airlines and Out Island Airways. [1]

Bahamasair initially encountered operating difficulties, including poor maintenance facilities, economic conditions and company structure. Those factors brought public distrust as a consequence. However, jet airliners started to arrive in the shape of British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Elevens followed by brand new Boeing 737s, and in 1972, it opened its first international service, from Nassau to Tampa, Florida. In 1973, the government’s vision of many airlines leaving the island became a reality, when Pan Am and some other major companies decided to stop operating to the Bahamas. This enabled Bahamasair to capture a substantial part of the Bahamas scheduled air transport market. Through the rest of the 1970s, Bahamasair kept adding flights to other cities in Florida and, domestically, the presence of the airline also grew rapidly.

During the early 1980s, Bahamasair unsuccessfully tried to expand to the Northeast United States [so as to influence market prices for this vital tourism source territory], opening flights to Philadelphia, Washington-DC and Newark, New Jersey. But in 1989, the airline’s directors decided that those routes were not profitable and eliminated them from the airline’s route map – an exercise in futility. In 1991, the airline streamlined it fleet operations, with the acquisition of de Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8 turbine propeller aircrafts, purchased to substitute for the whole jet fleet; the Boeing 737-200s were taken out of service. In 1997 however, Boeing 737-200’s were returned to service because key routes warranted the cargo and passenger carrying capabilities offered by these jetliners. The 737-200 was deployed to Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Orlando as well as one domestic route, being Nassau-Freeport. Today, Bahamasair operates efficient late model Boeing 737-500 jetliners, in addition to the stretched Dash 8 series 300 turboprop. But, the culture of dysfunction persists…

This foregoing news article, VIDEO and encyclopedic details are just echoes of the negative community ethos of failure with this airline for this country. While most Bahamians may not know the intricate details of the airline industry, they do know that the Bahamasair’s model is the epitome of failure, as the performance history has been consistently poor. This sad culture has resulted in the local community concocting phrases like:

1. BahamaScare
2. A religious airline: only God knows when they are arriving and only God knows when they are taking off.

This negative community ethos is even enshrined in the regulatory filing for the airline as an international carrier. Appendix B highlights the accepted quality standard in aviation known as the Warsaw Convention. Appendix C on the other hand, demonstrates how Bahamasair, and other Caribbean carriers, have petitioned for waivers so as not to abide by these high standards. Imagine the impressions and messaging this plea relates to the world:

No, hold us to a lower standard.
We are not afraid to fail.
We will not try to satisfy our customers.

This message aligns with the news report above. The Pilot Union in this case gained a bargaining edge in salary negotiations with the airline’s management, but at the expense of any goodwill with the flying public… or the affected tourist industry “partners” in the island-nation’s homeland.

This is sad … and embarrassing!

Change must come to the airline industry for the Bahamas … and the entire region. The book Go Lean … Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), an alliance of the 30 Caribbean member-states. This Go Lean roadmap has 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

This Go Lean roadmap portrays the need for regional integration, administration, and promotion for Caribbean air carriers. The book posits that transportation and logistics empowers the economic engines of a community, in this case tourism. The forgoing news articles definitely assert this economic leaning. There must be efficient air carrier solutions, to service the transportation and tourism needs of the Caribbean islands with optimized deliveries and best practices.

Efficiency, optimization, best practices …
… a new standard for a national character, reputation, image, and brand!

For the region as a whole, Bahamas included, it is the expectation that air travel will continue to grow and impact Caribbean society – thus the need for more regional coordination. New models are detailed in the book in which tourism will be enhanced with features like “air lifts” and “air bridges” to partner with Caribbean events and properties.

For much of the Caribbean, air service is the only transportation option for land-based visitations (stop-overs), so this Go Lean roadmap introduces the Union Atlantic Turnpike to offer more transportation solutions (ferries, toll roads, railways, and pipelines) to better facilitate the efficient movement of people and cargo.

The roadmap also calls for regulating and promoting the Caribbean’s aviation industry. We need Bahamasair and other regional carriers to better deliver on their charters to facilitate air passengers to and within the Caribbean.

This is how the CU will optimize the region’s economic engines. This is change!

The Go Lean book presents a series of positive community ethos, in place of the negative ethos that permeates the Caribbean air transport industry; these positive ethos must first be adopted to forge the desired change. In addition, there are these specific strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to apply, that would contribute to better deliveries:

Introduction to Lean – Quality in Production and Delivery Page 4
Who We Are – Experts in Lean, Agile and Quality Delivery Page 8
Anecdote – Learning from the French Caribbean’s Peak Season Strike Page 17
Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification Page 21
Community Ethos – People Choose Due to Scarcity of Resources Page 21
Community Ethos – All Choice Involve Costs Page 21
Community Ethos – People Respond to Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Systems Influence Individual Choices Page 21
Community Ethos – Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future Page 21
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Cooperatives Page 25
Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius – Promote Excellence Page 27
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve on the Art of Negotiations Page 32
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Sharing Page 35
Community Ethos – Impacting the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Customers – Visitors Page 47
Strategy – Competitive Analysis –  Event Patrons Page 55
Strategy – Core Competence – Tourism Page 58
Anecdote – Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Assoc. focus on Air Transport Page 60
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – Separation of Powers: Commerce – Tourism Promotion Page 78
Tactical – Separation of Powers: Aviation Administration & Promotion Page 84
Anecdote – “Lean” in Government – Extracting Quality from Best Practices Page 93
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Implementation – Ways to Impact Social Media – Outreach to CU Stakeholders Page 111
Implementation – Trade Mission Objectives – Elevate Image Page 116
Planning – Ways to Improve Trade Page 128
Planning – Ways to Better Manage Image – Public Relations Page 133
Planning – Negative Lessons Learned from Egypt’s Tourism Mis-steps Page 143
Planning – Ways to Measure Quality and Progress – Six Sigma Page 147
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Labor Unions – Quality Adoptions Page 162
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Leadership – Inspire Excellence Page 171
Advocacy – Ways to Enhance Tourism Page 190
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Events Page 191
Advocacy – Ways to Market Southern California – Air Bridge Page 194
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Main Street – Tourism Spin-offs Page 201
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Transportation – Aviation Promotion Page 205

Previous Go Lean blogs also detailed the dynamics of the air transport industry in the region; see sample here:

Caribbean less competitive due to increasing aviation taxes
Lessons Learned from the American Airlines Merger
Caribbean Changes – Air Antilles Launches St. Maarten Service

What exactly can be done to immediately turn-around the delivery practices for Bahamasair, and other regional carriers? The Go Lean book provides specific details within its 370 pages, serving as a roadmap for forging change in Caribbean society. Here is a list of products/services that would have elevated the experiences of the travelling public in the foregoing news article/VIDEO:

  • Cooperative among Regional Carriers – Sharing the burden of industrial crises
  • Service Level Agreements – Guaranteeing performance of service providers and accepting liability for failures (Appendix B)
  • – Social Media / Online Account Interactions – Awarding e-Credits for performance failures
  • Labor Union Escalation of Grievances – Providing recourse for the Pilots’ Petition – Mitigating the need for peak season strikes

Now is the time to lean-in to this roadmap for Caribbean change, as depicted in the book Go Lean…Caribbean. We cannot afford more news headlines like in the foregoing news article/VIDEO. Flying as a National Flag Carrier is a public trust. The Caribbean can – and must – do better.

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix A – Source Reference: retrieved December 29, 2014


Appendix B – Hotwire/Industry Quality Standards: Warsaw Convention

See Photo 1 & 2 of Fare Rules/Details:

CU Blog - No Fear of Failure - Photo 4

CU Blog - No Fear of Failure - Photo 5


Appendix C – Warsaw Convention Exemptions for International Carriers in the US.

See Photo 1 & 2 of Detailed List of Exempted Airlines – Highlighting Caribbean regional carriers:

CU Blog - No Fear of Failure - Photo 6

CU Blog - No Fear of Failure - Photo 7

Share this post:
, , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *