Categorized | Business, National News

NAD Taxes Won’t Affect Passengers

Despite fears that many travellers will have to pay more at the ticket counter at the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) due to the Nassau Airport Development (NAD) Company’s new business license fees, the head of the airport management company said passengers have nothing to worry about.

NAD’s CEO Vernice Walkine told the Bahama Journal recently that the business license fees, which will be paid for the first time this month, will not directly impact passengers.

In fact she said NAD now has the daunting task of making a budget shift to accommodate the new bill.

“Although it is an unanticipated and unbudgeted expense we propose that we will have to make spending cuts,” she said.

“So we have what we call a performance assurance programme to the degree to which that either we have a reduction in passenger numbers, which affects our revenue or whether we have an unexpected expenditure that we have to take care of. We look at certain items in the budget and see how we can either defer them or cut them so we can generate the funds we need for the expenditure without reducing our projected revenue.

“We never forget that we have an obligation to repay the loans that we took out for the project. So the business license fees will be treated as an unexpected expenditure for which we will have to find the funds in some of the line items in our budget.”

Meanwhile, passenger traffic dipped by two per cent over the last fiscal year.

Ms. Walkine said NAD is now devising a plan to get those numbers up.

“What happened was we were performing very, very well. Last summer, July and August were really the strongest summer we had since 2008 and September is generally a soft month. Last October we had Hurricane Sandy and it seems as though that has had lingering affects because ever since that hit on the northeast coast we have seen passenger numbers affected. But we have had some months where we have had reduction in travel of five, six and eight per cent and what caused us to have an overall of two per cent is because we had such a strong July and August.

“The numbers were actually up 10 and eight per cent. So it is going to be an interesting new fiscal year. We are working on a couple of initiatives with the tourism sector with the Ministry of Tourism and the Nassau/ Paradise Island Promotion Board. Delta recently announced that it will bring about Saturday flights on five new gateways so those kinds of initiatives are going to be very helpful in terms of stimulating new markets for us. So we are hopeful that we will have a strong year.”

NAD is also in discussions with the government and the Airlines for America Coalition.

The coalition, which represents big names airlines like America Airlines, Delta and Jet Blue, has threatened to pull out of The Bahamas in response to new airline fees that came into effect on July 1.
A new customs-processing fee is $75 per arrival and $75 per departure for each commercial flight was implemented.
Also, there is an increased customs-service charge for each flight arriving and departing the Bahamas between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. — $50 for aircraft with less than 30 seats and up to $200 for planes with 70 or more seats.
In addition, the departure tax of $25 per ticketed passenger now includes children under the age of 6, who were previously exempt.
Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe and other tourism stakeholders have expressed serious concern over the move, particularly since the Ministry of Tourism has been pushing to boost airline seats by 400,000 in anticipation of the $3.5 billion Baha Mar project on Cable Beach.

Ms. Walkine said she believes negotiations with the airlines are going well.

“NAD has been involved in those discussions to some degree because we have an interest in anything that affects the airlines that fly into the airport and so the degree to which the airlines are less than excited about fees they didn’t budget for – it’s cause for concern,” she said.

“We are not alarmed because here in The Bahamas we have always had a measured response to these kinds of things and so we have been meeting with the airlines and the government to talk about ways to medicate those additional costs for the airline.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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