Categorized | National News

BAHAMASAIR SET TO LOOSE $ 22MIL

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said Bahamasair is projected to lose over $22 million this year.

In his address to the House of Assembly on Wednesday, Mr. D’Aguilar said this loss is due to a $1.9 million increase in training cost for pilots to learn how to fly the five new ATRS which cost $120 million via a loan that Bahamasair took out to acquire the aircrafts.

“Bahamasair currently employs 690 people for 8 aircraft and staffing costs represent 42% of total revenue, which is almost twice as much as the industry average of $20-25%,”Mr. D’Aguilar said.

He added that they must reduce the enormous loses and given that the loss will go up even further when they start to repay that $120 million loan in September 2018, it is completely ‘within the realm of any right-thinking Bahamian to ponder when enough is enough.’

He said that when politicians control companies, there is a tendency to over staff under the belief that somehow that secures votes. However, he says, that has been proven wrong and he wishes that all politicians would stop meddling in the workings of state owned companies to the detriment of the tax payer.

He then back peddled on that statement saying, “My views on Bahamasair have changed. Having been intimately involved in the airlift evacuation from the southern islands, I thank the great God above that we had Bahamasair to assist,” Mr. D’Aguilar said.

Speaking on the facilities at the Lynden Pindling International Airport, the Minister of Aviation said he appreciated the enormous opportunities that Bahamasair provides Bahamians to be intimately involved in the aviation sector.

“My private sector background, may have caused me to lean towards not supporting Bahamasair because of its enormous burden on the state, I do now understand that it has a vital, national security and nation building role to play,” Mr. D’Aguilar said.

Furthering the conversation on economic opportunities, he added that the enormous subsidies to Bahamaair is allowing them to keep prices artificially low to the detriment of the private operators that are struggling to survive in the air transport business in the Bahamas.

“I intend to sit down with all parties to see how they can all operate and remain financially viable despite the subsidies passed on to Bahamasair by the state,” Mr. D’Aguilar said.

Speaking about the state of family island airports, he said that 28 family island airports require over $ 200 million in infrastructural improvements and he noted that securing airlift into these islands is the key component to the development of touristic development.

“The Inter-American Development bank has provided us with funding to begin the improvement of these airports and top of the list is Exuma, North Eleuthera, Bimini and San Salvador; recognizing that the busiest airport in the country, Marsh Harbour, has already been upgraded; although it does need rather frustratingly, a longer runway,” D’Aguilar said.

He added that the Minister of Finance has already tabled a resolution to borrow $ 35 million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to begin the improvements and he said he can report that plans are being finalized on the airport in Georgetown, Exuma.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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