D’Aguilar not getting involved in SkyBahamas dispute

No “sensible minister of aviation” would get involved in the clash between SkyBahamas and the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA), Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, as any sensible minister of aviation, this is not a process that I, as a political appointee, [am] going to get involved in,” he said.

“This is strictly between an operator and a regulator in a very technical field so I must allow that process to take its course.

“I’m certainly in the background trying to ensure that the process is fair [and] that the evaluation is happening as fast as it can. But I reiterate, it’s a very technical field and the regulator and the operator have to work it out.”

More than a week ago, SkyBahamas was evicted from its location at the airport. On August 17, it was also evicted from its office location by AOG Maintenance Company Ltd.

On July 8, the airline was grounded due to its lack of an air operator certificate (AOC) following several meetings with the BCAA.

SkyBahamas Chief Executive Officer Captain Randy Butler has said that the airline has lost millions of dollars in fixed costs and expected revenue and has also taken a major hit to its reputation since its planes have been grounded.

Yesterday, D’Aguilar said the airline’s operations were still being reviewed and its AOC was still under evaluation.

“I think that the regulator is probably close to making that decision,” he said.

“But I want to dispel the notion that somehow this process of applying for an air operating certificate has somehow led to the demise to SkyBahamas.

“Certainly, the action that would’ve been taken by NAD (National Airport Development Company), which is the airport, would’ve been building for some time and NAD took SkyBahamas to court for non-payment and received an award or the ability to take the action that they’ve done.

“I guess the bills have been mounting, operational difficulties have been mounting and we are where we are.”

Thirty-five of SkyBahamas’ 48 employees filed a trade dispute claiming they are “owed salary and other entitled benefits in accordance with the Labour Act of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas”.

The trade dispute was filed on August 8 at the Department of Labour.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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