Two airlines that provide service to the British Virgin Islands (BVI) are reportedly trying to block the privately owned BVI Airways from offering non-stop service between the BVI and Miami in the United States.
The locally based VI Airlink and interCaribbean Airways out of Turks and Caicos Islands have filed a joint petition against an application BVI Airways made last month to the US Department of Transportation (DOT), said reports by the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) as well as chaviation.com.
BVI Airways, in its application to DOT, is seeking Exemption Authority and a Foreign Air Carrier Permit.
It wants to operate non-stop service from the BVI to Miami, and to San Juan in Puerto Rico which is a United States territory.
However, VI Airlink and interCaribbean Airways have reportedly complained that they were not furnished with a copy of the BVI Airways application although the proposed service would affect their operations. That, the two airlines jointly argued, constitutes a violation of DOT requirements.
Further reports are that VI Airlink and interCaribbean Airways also questioned the BVI government’s impartiality in the matter.
They cited media reports in which Premier Dr D Orlando Smith allegedly announced that his government has ‘invested’ $7 million into the privately owned BVI Airways.
BVI Airways had said the money from the BVI government is a ‘loan’, said the petition filed by VI Airlink and interCaribbean Airways.
Despite facing strong objections locally, Premier Smith has maintained that his government’s $7 million injection into BVI Airways is crucial to solving a major airlift problem facing the BVI.
Already, BVI Airways has recruited staff and has opened an office in the BVI capital.
It also acquired two aircraft. Describing the planes, BVI Airways recently said: “The AVRO Regional Jet (RJ) 100 will have a seating capacity of 86… The 4-engine plane has a cruising altitude of 31,000 feet, and a speed of approximately 500mph. At that speed, the flight times between Miami and Tortola should be approximately 2.5 hours long.”
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