By Davion Smith, BVI News Staff
The BVI Airports Authority (BVIAA) has said some $600,000 worth of preparations were being made at the Terrance B Lettsome International Airport in anticipation of BVI Airways, which was supposed to commence flights between the BVI and Miami more than a year ago.
Since the airline reportedly jetted off with 7.2 million of taxpayer dollars without fulfilling its obligation to the BVI, preparations were not fully carried out at the airport.
But, up to the time of BVI Airways’ controversial departure, the BVIAA had assigned space at the airport for the airline, hired some 12 additional staff to airport security and fire services, and purchased a $100,000 ‘security machine’ in anticipation of the airline.
However, Managing Director for the BVIAA Denniston Fraser said his organisation has had to repurpose those preparations.
For example, Fraser said the room assigned to BVI Airways is now being used as an operations room because the operations room used previously was damaged during the hurricanes.
BVIAA trying to keep extra staff
While addressing the Standing Finance Committee recently, the BVIAA boss also said airport counters assigned to BVI Airways will be given to another airline that is expected to commence service in the territory.
He further told the Committee he did not know how much of the $600,000 has been spent so far because the remaining funds are being used to pay the additional airport staff hired in anticipation of BVI Airways.
Fraser said the BVIAA is trying to ‘maintain’ the additional security officers, especially since ‘a few’ others had resigned after the 2017 hurricanes.
According to the 2018 report on the deliberations of the Standing Finance Committee, “the Authority is compelled to keep the ones (additional staff) based on the projected passengers for the new airline”.
The BVI Airways saga
Since receiving public funds from the National Democratic Party government to commence nonstop BVI-Miami flights, the airline has missed all its promised commencement dates.
It then laid off its staff; claiming it needed more money to fly.
Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said his government has filed a ‘notice of breach’ to the airline and is now “considering the next step”.
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