The former board of BVI Airports Authority has said the airspace surrounding the sister island of Anegada is not as unregulated and carte blanche as Premier Andrew Fahie has led residents to believe.
In a recent statement in the House of Assembly, Premier Fahie said Anegada’s has “uncontrolled airspace”, means an aircraft could land or take off at the far-flung sister island without the knowledge of the authorities at the main TB Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island.
In a letter addressed to Fahie who is also the minister responsible for airports, the former BVIAA board said the situation at Anegada is “not unique”.
“All over the world, there are uncontrolled airfields, and the laws and best practices of aviation provide for persons landing at such facilities,” the former board argued.
It further said there is a mechanism in place called the Prior Permission Required (PPR) system whereby each aircraft landing in Virgin Gorda and Anegada must notify the BVIAA before their arrival.
“This system is functional, and although there is potential for abuse, we do not believe it is as loose and uncontrolled as portrayed in the Premier’s statement,” they added while while responding concerns by Premier Fahie about Anegada’s Auguste George International Airport.
We have border control
The former board also said, contrary to the Premier’s statement during the July 2019 sitting of the House of Assembly, border control personnel is in place on the sister island.
“The Anegada airport is an international airport which accepts aircraft from outside the BVI. Therefore it is required that there be Customs and Immigration facilities. So even if a rogue pilot were to fly in without the PPR notification, the crew and passengers would still be subject to Customs and Immigration control if the officers were actually on duty,” the former board said.
The Premier’s concerns
While addressing the House of Assembly, the Premier raised the concerns saying Anegada’s reported ‘uncontrolled airspace’ was a “serious national risk” that must be addressed.
He said the situation can facilitate illegal drug trafficking as well as undesirable persons and contraband entering our territory.”
Fahie, who is also the Finance Minister, also said the British Virgin Islands is losing money as a result of the said situation. He told the House of Assembly that the new board of the BVI Airports Authority is now considering a long-time recommendation to ‘redefine the territory’s airspace’ to include all the four main islands.
He said a study conducted roughly a decade ago indicated that the re-definement would cost approximately $900,000.
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