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Vision Airlines suffers lingering airport debts

Vision Airlines, the budget U.S. carrier, is speaking out concerning its large outstanding debts from airport fees, right on the heels of beginning direct service to Grand Bahama.

The foreign carrier, which began service to Freeport this month, confirmed to Guardian Business that it owes large debts to at least one airport in Florida.

The lingering deficit is the result of overdue passenger facility charges collected by Northwest Florida Regional Airport.

Gini Strobel, the marketing manager for Vision Airlines, said the airline has every intention of paying its debt.

The issue, she said, is millions of dollars tied up with a credit processor.

“During its 17 years of operations, Vision Airlines has always paid its airport charges and fees. Vision has every intention of paying its fees in full and has already paid off a number of airports. Millions of dollars are being held by our credit processor and Vision is working diligently to free up these funds which include all of the airport fees as well as earned revenues

from flying.”

No outstanding debts have been reported at Grand Bahama International Airport.

In October, Guardian Business reported on the rise of Vision Airlines, which has aggressively pursued direct service to The Bahamas from a number of U.S. cities, including Louisville, Fort Lauderdale, Baltimore, Richmond and Raleigh.

The company is advertising rock-bottom fares, with its website promoting $1 fares each way when you book three nights or more in a qualifying resort.

In an earlier interview, Peter Turnquest, the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce in Grand Bahama, confirmed that the airline is working with both the government and hotel partners to offer cheaper fares for foreign tourists.

However, at least one top aviation executive is warning the government to be wary of any debt problems among U.S. airlines, as partnerships could cause issues if the stakeholder suffers bankruptcy.

“The government should be putting in place measures to protect people,” said Randy Butler, the CEO of Skybahamas.

“There must be measures in place in case anyone files for bankruptcy, so The Bahamas isn’t left holding the bag.”

Butler pointed out that, in some cases, he is required to put down a bond representing three months of operating capital when flying into destinations in the U.S.

He expressed concern that foreign carriers are operating with debt. Butler has been a consistent and vocal critic of the government’s perceived lack of support for domestic carriers.

“We must ensure airlines are not going to leave any debt out there,” he added.

In regards to the overdue U.S. debt, Vision Airlines wished to reassure its customers that the company is secure and normal operations will continue.

“Vision Airlines will continue to provide out customers with great low fares and non-stop flights to popular tourist destinations,” Strobel said.

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