The government hopes to have the mechanisms in place to collect overflight fees by the first half of 2021, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar told Guardian Business yesterday, adding that those fees will go directly to the provision of safety and oversight in the aviation sector.
D’Aguilar said there is a six-month consultation period now underway, during which time airlines and aviation organizations will look at The Bahamas’ plan for the collection of its overflight fees and comment on it.
He added that the country’s model will be to collect from the entities owing fees and use those fees to pay the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration and Cuba’s aviation authority for the management of The Bahamas’ airspace.
“The provision of air navigation services in the country would now be funded by user fees as opposed to by state funds,” D’Aguilar said.
He explained that the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority hired ALG, a transport and infrastructure consulting firm, to advise the country on “the best way to approach this” and to “determine what to charge and who to charge”.
“After you find out what to charge and who to charge, you now make your intentions known to the industry and begin a consultation period where you tell them ‘this is what we would like to charge’ and the airlines and the organizations like IATA (International Air Transport Association) get sight of it and can comment on it,” said D’Aguilar.
The minister made it clear that overflight fees would not go into the public treasury per se, but will be used to pay for the “the provision of air navigation services and the enhancements necessary for the provision of safety and oversight in the aviation sector”, thus alleviating this particular taxpayer burden.
D’Aguilar said the systems of billing those who would owe The Bahamas those overflight fees is still being worked out.