By Esther Durand, BVI News
While stating that it sympathizes with VI Airlink and is open to having talks with the local airline, the BVI Airports Authority (BVIAA) has said its main priority is to implement strategies that help the authority in becoming a more viable entity.
The BVIAA was responding to criticism from the VI Airlink pilot, Neville Brathwaite Jr who criticised the authority’s decision to start building and renting hangar spaces to airlines. The previous and cheaper arrangement was that VI Airlink was able to lease or own land at the airport for up to 25 years.
In its response on Thursday, the BVIAA said it “has been mandated to be prudent in the management of its operations so that it reduces the burden on the treasury.”
“Meeting this directive means having to develop and optimize aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenue streams. Rental of hangars is one source of aeronautical revenue that most airports around the world rely on for income, and the BVIAA is intent on responsibly managing this asset when construction is completed,” the authority added.
The BVIAA said since their hanger stock at the Beef Island-based facility was destroyed, rebuilding from the ground up became the only option.
“The then Board of Directors and Management opted to make the best of the unfortunate situation and to design a rebuilding programme that takes into account the intentions for expansion and upgrade of the facilities at Beef Island and which falls into the scope of the master plan for the new airport infrastructural development.”
“The new and present Board of Directors and the Management team inherited certain arrangements already in place, but made a decision to go a step further and to execute a plan that would facilitate resilience, expansion of revenue generation capacity over the long-term, and cater for demands over the next 50 years,” the statement added.
Increase in demand for hangars
The government statutory body explained that there is now an increase in demand for hangar facilities “that is beyond the pre-hurricanes level”.
“This demand is expected to grow even further when current efforts to attract additional airlift providers begin bearing fruit. In this regard, and considering the medium- to long-term strategy and projected land use, it is necessary to relocate the hangars to a different parcel of BVIAA real estate,” it explained.
The legal formalities for the relocation of hangars have been recently completed, and preliminary engineering work has begun to facilitate the construction of new hangar facilities in the near future, the BVIAA stated.
Meetings to be had with VI Airlink
While empathising with how their plans have already begun to affect VI Airlink — which says it now pays exorbitant fees to maintain their flight abroad — the BVIAA said it is willing to discuss an amicable arrangement between itself and VI Airlink.
The authority said: “As a BVI-branded, BVI-owned and BVI-registered airlift provider, VI Airlink’s decades of service to the territory and its role in creating a proud Virgin Islands legacy, cannot and will not be treated lightly. It is, therefore, the intent of the Authority to convene a meeting shortly with the management of VI Airlink to explore options for lessening the challenges facing the local airline.”
“The authority is confident that by working together, both parties can find a solution that works for all stakeholders,” it added.
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