Bahamian Politics
DNA: Bahamasair saga is a national disgrace
By Buscheme Armbrister, Deputy Leader
Jan 7, 2020 - 5:41:22 PM

  •     PLP and FNM are responsible for ADS-B failure
  •     FNM Government is always blindsided
  •     Incompetence continues to cost taxpayers
  •     We need strategic plan for Bahamasair and aviation industry

The national carrier has been plagued by political interference, mismanagement and inefficiencies for decades. Successive administrations led by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and Free National Movement (FNM) have presided over the deterioration of the operations and financial position of Bahamasair.

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) has noted numerous media reports in relation to the failure of Bahamasair to comply with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards by installing the Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) on three 737-500 planes before January 1, 2020. This is concerning because the FAA regulations in question were issued May 27th 2010, therefore  we had 10 years to comply with this mandate . This issue has spanned over two FNM administrations, one full term under the PLP and three Prime Ministers. This is a national disgrace and the height of incompetence.

The DNA had withheld its comments to provide the government, Aviation Minister and Bahamasair with opportunities to explain their failures to the Bahamian people. Also members of the aviation community ( locally and internationally) have patiently waited for an explanation from the Bahamas National Flag Carrier as to why this software was not installed within 10 years. This mandate applied to all aircraft operators, Private and Commercial, and guess what ? The majority of General Aviation airplanes that operate out of Nassau into the USA have met the deadline, some operators more than two years ago. Bottom line “THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE”. The commentary that the Chairman of Bahamasair was blindsided is shocking but not surprising because the current administration is known for always being blindsided.

At an estimated installation cost of $100,000 per Aircraft within 10 years, time or funding could not be a factor. Sadly that leaves one logical excuse, poor incompetent management over the last 10 years. Someone needs to be held accountable. This is costing the tax payers, what could eventually be millions because 1. we now have to occasionally wetlease another aircraft  2. With 3 jets unable to fly to the USA, the smaller ATRs are now being used to service jet routes resulting in  major delays and inconvenience to passengers.  3. The 3 Jets that cannot fly to the USA will now have to be used to service the routes abandoned by the smaller ATRs which is not profitable because the loads are too small for a 120 seat 737.

We submit that the operational inefficiencies and incompetent leadership of Bahamasair continues to burden struggling taxpayers who subsidize the airline to the tune of millions of dollars annually.

What is the short, medium and long term plan for Bahamasair? What is the status of efforts to take control of and benefit from management of our airspace? It is time for a strategic plan for Bahamasair and our aviation industry. The sector should undergo reforms to improve service delivery, maintain safety standards and level the playing field between the national carrier and private airlines. The sector should be incentivized to grow and meet the needs of a 21st Century Bahamas. The DNA believes that Bahamians are equipped to fully own and manage the aviation sector in The Bahamas.

Buscheme Armbrister

Deputy Leader

Democratic National Alliance

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