Hamilton: Time for aviation sector restructure

Hamilton: Time for aviation sector restructure
Anthony Hamilton, Civil Society Bahamas president.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a number of deficiencies as it relates to the country’s aviation sector, according to Anthony K Hamilton, president of the Bahamas Association of Air Transport Operators.

Hamilton told Eyewitness News it represents “a golden opportunity to restructure”.

Commenting on the revelation that taxpayers have spent $40 million over the past seven months to keep Bahamasair in the air, he noted that local operators do not have that benefit.

“We understand that Bahamasair is the national flag carrier and is operating on the government’s purse. Private operators do not have that benefit,” said Hamilton.

“COVID-19 and Hurricane Dorian have cracked open a number of deficiencies as it relates to the Bahamian aviation sector and the country at large. When we look at what is happening with tourism, we ought to sit down and take another look at a strategic plan for this sector.

“Right now, this is a very complex and challenging environment we are working in.”

Hamilton credited the government for its assistance in helping companies to maintain salaries amid the pandemic but said “more needs to be done”.

“This is a golden opportunity in the midst of all of this to restructure,” said Hamilton.

“All the stakeholders must be engaged. I believe we can do it. We need to ensure that the Bahamian citizenry have ownership of this industry and are encouraged to take ownership for it.

“Bahamasair has a role to play and the domestic operators likewise have a role to play.”