At least one member of Government has openly admitted that the BVI Airways matter could have been handled better and that local carrier BVI Airlink should have been selected instead.
While speaking in the Private Members segment of the 10 July sitting of the House of Assembly, Junior Minister for Tourism Hon. Archibald Christian bemoaned the fact that the BVI Airways arrangement never materialised and explained that the venture was brokered with good intentions: “In our wisdom we decided to let BVI Airways be the flag carrier for the territory with direct flights to Miami. We gave them $7.2M of tax payers’ money now we have no airline to show for it. No airline, no aircraft,” he said.
While noting that the airline was expected to assist with bringing passengers directly to the Territory, Hon. Christian admitted that there is a lesson to be learnt from the failed deal. “We can’t get the people to the territory in the manner that we wanted to get them to, and we have to be honest with ourselves. Whenever we are striking or making deals with foreign entities we have to be extremely careful. We have to dot all our ‘I’s and cross all our ‘t’s,” the Junior Minister announced.
It is must be said that in the mid-1980s a similar attempt to introduce direct flights from Miami to the BVI and vice-versa turned out to be a fiasco; however, the Romney government did not lose money.
Now, 33 years later, Hon Christian discloses that the present NDP Government has been having difficulties getting a report from BVI Airways on the matter and he noted that this further compounds his regret of not pushing for BVI Airlink: “If I knew then what I know now, I would have taken that money [and]give it to the Brathwaites, because I know where I could find the Braithwaites. I don’t know where I could find the people that have BVI Airways anymore. We are trying to locate them; we are trying to have a conversation with them. We are trying to get a report from them. We now have to consider legal actions against them, that is most unfortunate,” Hon. Christian disclosed.
While stressing the loss of the investment in the airline, the Junior Minister announced; “$7.2 million that we could do with right now; so that we can get our roads fixed our schools reopened. I suppose the Premier would continue to do his best, he is not going to give up on it because he knows that at the end of the day he has to report back to the people of the BVI on exactly what has happened to our $7.2M…I would like to know how they spent the money Premier what did they do with it.”
The public also would like to know more about the people behind BVI Airways: who are them? And why it’s taking so long to initiate legal action?