NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Davis yesterday castigated the government for failing to ensure Bahamasair aircraft were in line with Federal Aviation Administration equipment standards.
Three of Bahamasair’s nine-fleet planes have had to be rerouted from the United States because they currently do not comply.
During a press conference at the party’s headquarters, Davis said: “The minister responsible for Bahamasair must address immediately in the full glare of public view how Bahamasair finds itself in this position.
“The minister must have known that this was coming and failed to advise his colleagues of the need to address what was coming.
“Our suspicion is that political dithering landed us in this position; failing to make the hard decisions about the airline’s future.”
Bahamasair Chairman Tommy Turnquest told Eyewitness News on Thursday that as of January 1, 2020, the FAA requires all aircraft flying into the U.S. to have the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out equipment installed.
He noted however, that Bahamasair’s supplier was unable to provide the navigation kit for three of its 737-500 planes.
He added that they had “great difficulty” finding a supplier for the older model aircraft but believes they found one thought could provide the equipment within three weeks.
As a result, the airline will have to wet lease flights on Saturday to meet the holiday demand residue and prearranged agreements and the three aircraft will be rerouted to Family Island and Caribbean destinations.
Yesterday, Davis said: “We do not believe that the public will be well served by the airline with this new issue. We are sure to face more lateness, delays and inconvenience.
“The government expects us to believe that with passenger numbers traditionally down in the first quarter, they are going to burn fuel to fly 10 to 40 people on a 128-seat jet to our family islands.
“How is that financially sensible or sustainable?”
He also called the reasoning given by Turnquest, “a dropping of the ball” and a “managerial and or political misstep”.
In May 2010, the FAA issued Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations which requires ADS-B Out performance when operating in designated classes of airspace within the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS) after January 1, 2020, unless authorized by air traffic control (ATC).
Asked whether under the Christie administration the navigational system could have been installed, Davis said that they were working on it at the time.
He said: “We are concerned that the government should take full political responsibility for this and not seek as they usually do to blame others for their political dithering.
“The FNM has no plan to govern this country and our national enterprises. This development with Bahamasair is yet another example of the FNM dropping the ball and letting the Bahamian people down.”