BVI News

Airline funded by gov’t blocks journalist


A journalist from the BVI Beacon newspaper was today barred from attending a public viewing of an aircraft owned by private airline BVI Airways.

The BVI government has pumped $7 million into the carrier in order for it to commence direct flights between the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Miami in the United States.

As the airline awaits permission from the US Department of Transportation, it today hosted an open viewing of one of its new aircraft.

BVI News Online, among other media houses, received invitations to attend the event at Terrence B Lettsome International Airport, Beef Island.

When a Beacon reporter showed up at the airport to cover the event, he was turned away by a representative of the airline.

The reporter was told that BVI Airways did not extend an invitation to him and his media house.

Other journalists were permitted to participate in the public viewing of the plane.

Journalists quizzed the airline’s media contact, Sachkia Barnes, about the reason the Beacon reporter was barred.

But she declined to comment.

The barring comes on the heels of a March 16, 2017 report in the Beacon newspaper that President and CEO of BVI Airways Jerry Willoughby was ‘tied to another airline’ that was ‘struggling to get off the ground’.

The article, which was written by the Beacon journalist who attended the event today, reported that Willoughby, along with two other BVI Airways executives, worked with Baltia Airlines which is based in New York.

According to the article, Barnes said Willoughby only worked with Baltia for a ‘short period’ as a consultant.

The newspaper article further quoted Barnes as saying that Willoughby was never an executive in the company.

According to the said article, Barnes’ declaration contradicted Willoughby’s LinkedIn social media page around the time the article was published.

The social media page reportedly stated that the BVI Airways boss served as ‘Baltia’s director of flight operations from April 2009 to October 2011’.

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