Friday, May 19, 2017
By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A Bahamian airline chief executive yesterday urged the new administration to quickly meet with stakeholders and assess the whole aviation sector, warning that increased fees were making Family Island travel cost prohibitive and impeding their economic development.
Randy Butler, the Sky Bahamas principal, issued what he described as a “clarion call” to the Dr Hubert Minnis-led administration, urging it to sit down with the sector and chart the way forward, particularly the role of Bahamasair.
His comments came in the wake of the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD), the Lynden Pindling International Airport’s manager, announcing that from September 1, 2017, aeronautical fees, inclusive of landing fees, terminal fees, aircraft loading bridge fees and aircraft parking fees, will all increase by 3 per cent.
“We just pass those fees on to consumers,” Mr Butler said. “When you land in Turks and Caicos or Jamaica you are not taking another flight.
“When you come to Nassau and you want to go to Cat Island, you are paying those fees twice and that makes the trip more expensive.
“Whatever ministry is responsible for Family Island development as well as tourism is going to have to look at that. It is very expensive to travel to the islands when we have the amount of fees that you do. It’s becoming very hard for locals to move up and down. The Government has to take a look at the cost.”
Mr Butler added: “We want to give this government the support to be able to get it together. I hoping that this is one of those things that they look at, and take a look at aviation as a whole; Family Island development and tourism.”
Mr Butler said a number of Bahamian-owned airlines have gone out of business, leading to a rise in illegal charters.
“Those illegal charters don’t have to pay National Insurance, Business License fees, NAD fees or train pilots. I hope that the government will sit down with industry and look at the role of Bahamasair and allow a codeshare with Bahamasair,” he added.