D’Aguilar: Let’s think positively about privatizing NFS

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – As the government advances the process of privatizing Nassau Flight Services (NFS), the state-owned ground handler, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday that fears of downsizing in the hands of potential investors should be quelled for now, and instead the workers should “think positively”.

Asked outside the Churchill Building whether the government foresees the company streamlining, the minister, whose portfolio includes aviation, said “I don’t know. I have to see what proposals come in, so I am not prepared to opine on that at this moment.

“Let’s see what type of proposals and what type of ideas come in and then we’ll take it from there. Everybody gets fearful that there is going to be downsizing and people laid off.

“That might result, but let’s see; let’s think positively and see what proposals come in.

“This is an opportunity for a Bahamian company to expand into this area, so let’s look at the positive side of it.”

The requests for proposals (RFP) were issued on Monday.

According to the RFP document, the deadline for proposals is June 28, 2019.

The government expects to execute an agreement by July 26, 2019.

There are 244 employees spread across The Bahamas.

“The ministry will execute either an outright purchase agreement or a minimum 10-year franchise agreement for NFS,” read the RFP.

“Either agreement will include minimum staffing, operational and service standards for NFS and the operator will be required to consistently offer service that compliments the service level required by the respective Airport operator.

“The agreement will be provided for review after the award decision has been made.”

According to the document, ground handling income was $5.61 million 2015; $5.99 million in 2016; $5.93 million in 2017 and $6.25 million last year.

Based on a two percent growth scale, ground handling income was forecasted at $6.37 million this year and $6.5 million 2020.

In an interview with The Tribune, D’Aguilar made clear that the government wishes to see the company in the hands of Bahamian entrepreneurs.

He eluded to the privatization of the company during his contribution to debate on the 2017/2018 budget.