Minister maintains he will not get involved, but has sought to ensure “fair process”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — As SkyBahamas seeks to renew its air operators certificate, settle outstanding tenant debts and pay its employees, some of whom had filed a trade dispute for pay, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar maintained yesterday that he will not get involved in a technical matter involving an air operator and the regulator.
However, the minister said he has worked in the background to ensure the “process is fair” and re-evaluation of the airlines is timely.
The airline is still under review.
D’Aguilar indicated that the regulator — the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority — is close to making a decision.
“I guess the bills have been mounting; operational difficulties are mounting,” the minister said outside the Churchill Building.
“We are where we are. 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, is going to get involved in.
“This is strictly between an operator and a regulator in a very technical field, and so I must allow that process to take its course.
“I am 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 this is a very technical field and the regulator and the operator have to work it out.”
The Nassau Airport Development (NAD) took legal action against SkyBahamas for outstanding funds — more than $450,000 — owed to it.
A group of SkyBahamas’ employees field a trade dispute with the Department of Labour earlier this month over outstanding salary pay owed to them.
The trade dispute was filed on August 8.
SkyBahamas was grounded on July 8.
SkyBahamas CEO Captain Randy Butler has said the airline has lost million of dollars.
He said the company has lost bookings, good faith with its customers and suffered reputational damage.
The airline was also evicted from its location at the airport.
It was also evicted from its office location by AOG Maintenance Company Limited last week.
Butler has maintained that the renewal issues appears to be personal and political.
As it relates to the funds owed to NAD, the CEO told Eyewitness News Online that he had a payment agreement in place with the airport’s management, but there have been some internal challenges with the size and frequency of the payment schedule.
Butler has acknowledged employees have not been paid for weeks, but he said he expects employees to be paid as soon as the airlines is able to begin operating again.
Asked about the airlines ability to reenter the market and turnaround its issues, D’Aguilar said, “The operator will have to evaluate that and see what the capital requirements are to reenter the market, build their brand back, track customers back. They will have to evaluate that and see what amount of capital will be necessary to do it, and whether they have the capital to do it and the willingness to do it.”