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Aviation expert touts benefits of customs duty removal from imported aircraft

According to aviation expert Llewellyn Boyer-Cartwright, the government’s removal of customs duties from imported aircraft has the potential to spur business in a plethora of areas, including fueling, cleaning, engine maintenance, upholstery and servicing.

Boyer-Cartwright’s remarks were made in a press release that sought to bolster the government’s position in removing customs duties in order to spawn an aircraft registry.

As a leading advocate for an international aircraft registry in The Bahamas, Boyer-Cartwright said government’s position has been misunderstood.

​“I think there has been an unfortunate misunderstanding that the removal of a 10 percent customs duty from all imported aircraft was proposed to aid the high-net-worth individual who owns a private plane and can now fly in and out of The Bahamas free as a bird without paying his or her dues,” said Llewellyn, who is a legal advisor to the airline industry and partner at the Callenders & Co. law firm.

“Because the proposal to remove duties on what can be perceived as luxury goods like jets coincided with the increase in value-added tax as government was trying to identify additional revenue sources to mitigate against the onerous debt service, there was an outcry that the budget penalized the poor and aided the rich who could afford to jet around the world on their private planes and helicopters.”

Boyer-Cartwright added: “The government did not give up any revenue. It stands to gain because if an aircraft is registered here, its owners or lessors are going to do business here. That means a broad spectrum of services from catering to fueling, cleaning, engine maintenance, upholstery, servicing, pilot and crew accommodations, banking, insurance, legal work – and all of those goods and services attract VAT. The government is to be congratulated for seeing the bigger picture. It’s not about the wealthy private jet owners. It’s about creating opportunities for Bahamian people.

“The purpose of the proposed exemption from 10 percent duty was to attract business we never had before. Our customs duties were non-competitive so corporations, regional airlines, wealthy individuals including star athletes, entertainers and businesspersons registered their aircraft elsewhere like Isle of Man, Bermuda or the Cayman Islands, where registries are already contributing significantly to their economies. With the removal of those duties, we are one step closer to an international aircraft registry that will unlock an almost inexhaustible range of spin-off businesses and opportunities.”

According to Boyer-Cartwright, the private airline registry could become a reality in less than 12 months “once the project has been launched and funded”.

Boyer-Cartwright said the business jet industry is on the rebound since the 2008 global recession, and now manufacturers are racing to keep up with new orders.

“Barring any unforeseen circumstances, if The Bahamas is on stream by next year this time, the climate will be perfect for take off,” he said.

Chester Robards

Senior Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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