BVI Airways Fiasco Leaves Opposition With Bitter Taste

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While it was alluded that BVI Airways has been warned that it was in breach of contract, Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith did not state any specific action Government intends to take against the airline that received $7 million dollars to operate a non-stop flight between the BVI and Miami.

In response to questions from the Leader of the Opposition Hon. Andrew Fahie in the House of Assembly on 14 December Premier Smith did not give details of the plan to address the fact that BVI Airways never took to the skies. However, he did announce that government informed the airline of the breach of contract on 1 October.

It was noted that the order was not issued by the Attorney General; and Leader of the Opposition Hon. Fahie expressed concern that if the actions against the Airline were not taken by the Attorney General then they are not serious.

However, Premier Smith explained that the Order was the preliminary step and he announced that the steps to follow will be dealt with by the Attorney General. Hon. Smith said: “Whatever next steps happen will take place on the advice of the Attorney General.”

While responding to the company Premier Smith announced that government intends to fight to ensure that in one form or the other there is satisfaction for the$7Million invested in BVI Airways.

The announcement was made by the Premier during his statement to the Territory on 1 August. In that address the BVI Leader mentioned that there are two options on the table to deal with the BVI Airways debacle, which became a territorial concern on 18 July, following the receipt of an open letter from the company.

Premier Smith declared that government is even more determined to see this situation resolved in the interest of the BVI. He told the public on 1 August: “This Government will fight with every ounce of strength to make sure that BVI Airways makes good on its commitments to this Territory – and if it cannot or will not do so, that the people of this Territory are compensated for that loss.”

Money Back – says Opposition Leader

On more than one occasion since the hurricanes Hon. Fahie pointed out that the monies from BVI Airways would be useful to the Territory at this time. While speaking on the radio in October Hon. Fahie said: “I have been quiet about certain things because we are in a disaster and we have to make sure that we work together and I have been doing my part with that…if you are going to tell us to take a cut and we have no choice and it comes to that well then we have to see that same aggressiveness with you being reconciling with many things I am not going away from it: are we going back for that $7Million for that plane?”

“Are we going to make sure that certain areas that we had concerns, those monies we are going for them, because I am not going to sit down and see that we balance the problem of Irma and Maria on the backs of the public servants and the people and all those who have gone with our monies are out there where the planes didn’t fly our roofs flew,” he added.

In its open letter issued in July BVI Airways heaped blame for its inability to fly on the government. The airline maintained that the blame for the present no-flight situation should not fall squarely on their shoulder because the company said that it has done its part. “We have the planes, the organization and have secured all the difficult regulatory approvals. However, improvements to the airport required under our contract to meet basic commercially acceptable standards for processing passenger volume of this size have not been completed.”

However, in a rebuttal on 19 July Premier Smith stated that Government did meet its obligations.

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