Airports with Heart: How the gateway to The Bahamas builds community connections to drive growth

With Southwest Airlines announcing at Routes Americas the launch of a new daily non-stop service between Fort Lauderdale and Nassau in The Bahamas starting on August 7, 2016 Routesonline takes a closer look at how Lynden Pindling International Airport is driving growth.

When it comes time for travellers to book their trip, they’re typically most consumed with their destination—not which airport they will fly to. Similarly, residents aren’t always quick to think of their local airport as an asset to the community.

In Nassau, The Bahamas, Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA), is turning this paradigm on its head and leading with its heart to connect with the community and drive awareness of its important role in the country.

“As an island nation and tourism destination, air connections provide essential links to the people and businesses of The Bahamas and facilitate the flow of tourists, goods and families,” Jan Knowles, Vice President, Marketing and Communications at LPIA told Routesonline during Routes Americas in San Juan, Puerto Rico this week. “The airport has an important role in creating jobs and opportunities and developing strong ties to global markets.”

It’s this vital role that inspired the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD), the company that operates LPIA and is managed by Vantage Airport Group, to engage with passengers and the community alike in lasting and meaningful ways.

Indeed, LPIA actively contributed to relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Joaquin, which pummelled The Bahamas’ Family Islands in September 2015. Working with the country’s Ministry of Transport and Aviation, the Bahamas Red Cross and Salvation Army, the airport facilitated the transport of much needed medical supplies, food and water to affected areas.

The airport also spearheaded participation in Ocean Conservancy’s Shoreline Cleanup, where nearly 1,000 pounds of trash was collected and removed from a local beach. In support of breast cancer awareness, LPIA encouraged employees to don custom-made high visibility vests in the cause’s signature pink and held awareness presentations about diagnosis and treatment. And, LPIA was integral to introducing a new education award, funded by Vantage, to support local Bahamian students in their pursuit of post-secondary education.

“Contributing to the community and supporting health and sustainability organizations has allowed LPIA to engage and connect with our local residents,” said Knowles. “It gives our employees another reason to be proud to be a part of the airport team. And, it has helped us cultivate genuine relationships with our airport, government and community leaders.”

Relationships at this level have proven key to bringing new passenger technology to LPIA’s terminals and welcoming new retail partners. This is evident as the airport recently launched Automated Passport Clearance (APC), unveiled a popular new pay-per-visit passenger lounge and also opened its first Starbucks location.

“Our strong relationships at all levels of government and with tourism partners also supports our outreach to prospective carriers,” said Knowles. “It’s critical for the airport to have this backing in order to attract new and added air service.”

LPIA is one of the Caribbean’s largest international gateways and served more than 3.2 million passengers in 2015. Twenty airlines currently serve LPIA, connecting people and businesses to more than 52 destinations worldwide.