Where Are BVI Airways' Planes? Premier Fumbles

Melissa Edwards, Senior Journalist | November 13, 2017 11:22 am MST
Photo Credit: Melissa Edwards/BVI Platinum News
Premier and Finance Minister, Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith was unable to provide the House of Assembly with a direct answer as to where the two BVI Airways planes are located. This, after his government injected $7.2M into the startup of the airline, which is yet to commence direct flights between the TB Lettsome International Airport and Miami International Airport.

In the House of Assembly today, November 13, Opposition Leader, Hon. Andrew Fahie pressed Premier Smith on the status of the deal between BVI Airways and the BVI government.

Premier Smith said that the airline's service is not yet available to the public, prompting Hon. Fahie to ask where the planes are.

"I would not be able to tell you at this moment in time where the planes are located in America...But I cannot tell you that in this point in time, but I can get that information," Premier Smith said.

The Opposition Leader asked, "So the Premier is telling me we are out $7.2M and we don't know where the planes are?"

Premier Smith described Hon. Fahie's statement as ridiculous.

"You asked a question which is available, but I cannot answer it at this moment in time. If you need that answer you will get it, but not now."

Hon. Fahie continued to grill the Finance Minister.

"Can the Minister of Finance confirm if the two planes are in Canada and not being released because they have not been paid for refurbishment?"

The Premier responded, "As I said earlier, I will be able to provide information as to where the planes are if that is the request, and I will provide it for you."

The Opposition Leader also asked what measures the government is taking to recoup the $7.2M, given that the airline has missed all deadlines to fulfill the services agreed upon with the Government of the Virgin Islands for the direct flights.

"...I will reiterate that BVI Airways is currently engaged with various entities in relation to investment in the project, so it would therefore be prejudice to further discuss it at this time," Premier Smith said.

The Premier did not answer other questions pertaining to BVI Airways, citing the Standing Orders because they were already answered at previous sittings.

In July, BVI Airways announced that it was facing major financial hiccups, forcing it to let go of its entire flight crew and a major setback to the commencement of the flights.

The airline had also partially blamed government for the setback, but government said that it has provided all the monies to BVI Airways, as agreed under its contract, and has also met the necessary obligations.

Government said in July that having provided the agreed support, government and the people are awaiting the commencement of the much anticipated direct Miami/BVI flights.

Since the passage of Hurricane Irma, there have been no reports that the airline has provided assistance in the recovery efforts of the Territory.
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