NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamasair’s chairman said yesterday that there have been no formal discussions around salary deferrals for the airline’s employees as the national flag carrier faces substantial losses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis suggested that Bahamasair may have to defer salary payments to some or all of its staff.
“I heard it like everyone else. No one has spoken to me as yet anyway,” Turnquest told Eyewitness News.
“That’s all I can tell you. No one has spoken to me, I can’t put it any differently. We have been allocated a $19 million subvention. Our fixed cost is around $3.5 (million) a month. Our personal emoluments is around $2.7 (million). There is also the loan for the ATR’s that we have to pay. The money has to come from somewhere. We have to see what the government says.”
Yesterday, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar explained the government was seeking to discourage travel as he responded to questions on why the national flag carrier remained grounded.
“We want to discourage our people from traveling,” D’Aguilar said.
“The prime minister, as you can imagine in parliament, begged Bahamians not to travel. So what we’re trying to do is discourage as much as possible persons going out of the country because then they want to come back into the country.
“So the only flights that would come would be international flights coming to pick people up and leave. I want to reiterate and reemphasize anyone that wants to leave the country can leave, by whatever means they wish. This is not a police state, where you can’t if you want to leave, it’s just our protocols are gonna be very strict when you re-enter the country.”
At a press conference yesterday, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) leader Philip Davis said Bahamasair workers are concerned about the prime minister’s remarks regarding possible cuts to their base salaries in light of the unilateral discontinuation of their supplemental pay back in March.
“I am advised that that amounted to a pay reduction of between 18 and 26 percent for cabin attendants, customers service staff and aircraft engineers.
“Bahamasair management has since defaulted, essentially reneging on their promise to restore supplemental pay when Bahamasair flights resumed on June 19, 2020. They are now proposing deeper cuts into their base pay of their workers,” Davis said.
“The human costs of these cuts to working families are extraordinary. None of these cuts or proposed cuts was ever discussed with the workers.Where is the transparency? Where is the compassion for these essential workers?”
Davis also questioned whether the competent authority appreciates the impact his decisions amid the pandemic have had on Bahamian families and businesses, particularly those which rely on tourism.
He called on the prime minister to “stop hiding from questions”.