Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019
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Vision Airlines clears debt with U.S. airports

Vision Airlines says it has cleared its debts with U.S. airports and attributed the deficit to “more pressure to collect funds” from the airline industry than before.

Last week, Guardian Business reported that the  budget U.S. carrier had large outstanding debts with at least one airport in Florida, sparking concerns from local stakeholders with service recently underway to Grand Bahama International Airport.

Gini Strobel, marketing manager for the airline, said the airline business is difficult.

“We have paid the fees or have reached an agreement with all of the airports to pay the fees,” he told Guardian Business.

“With revenues down from lower tax collections in each of the municipalities, there is much more pressure to collect funds. The airline business can be a difficult business.”

Strobel referred to the recent bankruptcy of American Airlines to illustrate her point.

The third largest airline in the U.S. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday in the wake of high labor costs and rising prices for jet fuel.  Gerard Arpey, the CEO, will step down and will be replaced by company president, Thomas Horton.

Although a much smaller airline by comparison, possible financial issues at Vision Airlines are being closed watched by stakeholders in The Bahamas, as the government and tourism boards engage in incentives and agreements with the foreign company.

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.

In October, Vision Airlines launched a direct service to The Bahamas from a number of U.S. cities, citing $1 fares each way when you book three nights or more in a qualifying resort.

“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 is remaining an outspoken critic of foreign airlines.  He expressed concern that foreign carriers are operating with debt, and pointed out that in some cases, he is required to put down a bond representing three months of operating capital when flying into U.S. destinations.

But for now, Vision Airlines is assuring its customers that the debts have been settled and the company remains stable.

Strobel pointed out that Vision Airlines has been operating since 1994 and always paid its fees.

“Vision Airlines has never filed bankruptcy and looks forward to continuing to build our business with all of our valuable partners,” she said.

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