Bahamasair, working to leverage steady demand for tourism in its home region, has taken delivery of its ninth aircraft and is eyeing additional partnerships with airlines, the airline’s top executive said.

“We’re seeing robust growth in tourism," CEO Tracy Cooper told delegates at the recent Aviation Week Routes Americas conference. “We’re just trying to keep up with the growth.”

The latest addition is the airline's fourth, and newest, Boeing 737. The aircraft, a 737-700, arrived in Nassau on Feb. 14 after being configured with a new, 138-seat cabin. It joins three 737-500s and three ATR 42-600s, and two ATR 72s in the airline’s fleet.

The newest 737, purchased from AerCap and formerly operated by Alaska Airlines and Lucky Air, will be a welcome addition on international routes. Cooper said. It also will allow the airline to offer charter flights up to about 5 hr., or about 2 hr. farther than the current 737s, Cooper said.

The airline, launched in 1973 and backed by the Bahamian government, serves about 30 destinations, including international routes to Havana, Houston, Miami, and Orlando. It uses its turboprops primarily to serve its domestic, inter-island routes and shorter international routes, such as Haiti and Turks and Caicos, while the 737s are on longer-haul and higher-demand international routes.

Despite the fleet addition, Cooper said the airline's long-term strategy will emphasize partnerships, not adding aircraft. Bahamasair, which favors prorate and interline ticketing agreements, has ties with about 10 airlines, including Air France, British Airways, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, and Chicago-based United Airlines.

“We’re not really doing so much codesharing,” Cooper told ATW. “It’s easier to get in [with other types of agreements] and we are able to list what kind of pricing that we want to see. Everybody is giving up a little.”

The airline is actively seeking more partners but will be selective, Cooper said.

“We’re not trying to compete with the main trunk routes, but will go after routes that may have difficulty getting into the Bahamas,” he said. “We’re looking at carriers from around the world, and we’re looking at small airlines” within the Americas.

Adding partners instead of new routes gives Bahamasair low-risk growth potential, Cooper explained.

“If I fly an airplane to a new destination, I have all of the risk factors associated with that,” he said. “If I tie in with airlines, I literally have no risk. If you can do it well and increase the margins that way, can expand without the risk.”

The airline handed 917,000 passengers in its 2017/18 fiscal year, generating $90 million in revenue, Cooper said. The new aircraft and additional partnerships should help increase both figures.

“For a state-owned airline, we think we are on the right track,” Cooper said.

Sean Broderick, sean.broderick@aviationweek.com