Airline CEO maintains license not renewed for political and personal reasons
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority Director General Captain Charles Beneby said yesterday that SkyBahamas was grounded after the company failed to meet as many as nine requirements needed to receive their annual air operator’s certificate.
According to Beneby, this is not the first time SkyBahamas has been noncompliant.
He said in addition to applying 21 days late, the authority had reason to pause SkyBahamas’ AOC application because it was not pleased with the lack of the airline’s financial, operational, and technical capabilities.
“The authority will not be coerced, bullied, or strong-armed into granting an air operator’s certificate,” Beneby said during a press conference.
“We had a case where a pilot did not have a valid medical amongst his technical and other capabilities. The pilot must possess a valid medical for the category and class that he operates under. The system that was intended to monitor that failed. So, on a number of instances, we had flights being operated by an individual, who did not have a valid medical.”
SkyBahamas CEO Caption Randy has maintained that the airline addressed all issues, but he was told on July 8 to stop all flights.
But Beneby asserted that there are still open matters that must be addressed.
“We have some issues right now that involves some of their documentation that we are willing to work with them to fix,” he said.
“There is one particular requirement and that is as it relates to the organization required management personnel that still remains open. That needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency if SkyBahamas is going to get an AOC.”
The authority added that it has made attempts to address the matter, however, Beneby said the issues were met with despondency.
He said, “We have made some progress, but our activities were stymied by Sky’s refusal to allow inspectors access to the premises as is required under the regulations.”
While Butler asserted that the airline was grounded intentionally for personal and political reasons by an inspector who was formally a shareholder, Beneby noted that the inspector did not have a direct hand in the matter.
“The person at hand might have been as a second, but he was not the lead inspector,” he said.
“And again, I am advised that nothing that he would’ve done or participated in had any material effect on the findings.”
Last week, Butler told Eyewitness News Online the airline is burdened with a $500,000 debt to the Nassau Airport Development (NAD) Company, which he said is due to excessive free travel dished out by former shareholder Peter Turnquest, the deputy prime minister and minister of finance.
Turnquest said he was unaware of what Butler was talking about.
He said, “Butler needs to deal with his own issues.”
Two weeks ago, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said the government has no plan to intervene with SkyBahamas’ matter.
“I want to be very clear, no minister of aviation with any sense is going to intervene on a safety issue,” he said.
“If SkyBahamas has a matter before the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority, it is up to him to figure out how to get the necessary approvals in order to obtain his air operating certificate.”
SkyBahamas’ air operator certificate (AOC) expired on June 29.
The airline has unable to facilitate passenger bookings.
Its more than 60 employees remain home without pay.