BVI News

Costly | No home for our birds at Beef Island Airport, says VI Airlink

Neville Brathwaite, Jr

By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff

VI Airlink pilot, Neville Brathwaite Jr has said the lack of hangar space at the TB Lettsome International Airport has negatively affected the company’s bottom line because it has to spend almost double to maintain their fleet abroad.

Brathwaite said this became an issue for the airline when the hurricanes Irma and Maria affected the Beef Island-based airport back in September 2017.

He said: “A BVI legacy source of aviation since the 1970s is without a nest to rest its birds and has to take the maintenance of their large aircraft to Anguilla, Puerto Rico and Florida every month for services that VI Airlink were able to perform here in the BVI.”

“The BVI’s only BVI-registered and local airline celebrated 10 years linking the BVI to the outside world and providing their community service by linking the islands of Anegada, and Virgin Gorda to Beef Island and is under even more pressure from the current administration.”


Braithwaite explained that the airline previously had a 25-year lease agreement for land at the airport. However, he said the airline was asked to sign it over after the hurricanes of 2017.

He said the previous NDP government had stated that it was necessary for VI Airlink to sign over their lease agreement because the hangars were going to be relocated. However, the airline was later slapped with a meagre five-year lease offer instead.

VI Airlink pilot said things worsened for the airline since the new VIP administration took office months ago. Brathwaite said government informed the airline that they “do not want to lease land or even have anyone own land on the airport in Beef Island, so their offer is to build and rent the hangars”.

He said the airline’s proposed hangar plan is to construct a hangar space at the airport for the future growth of the locally-owned airline. 

“We asked for a 50 to 99 year lease on land for the airline and maintenance facility because people come from outside and get 99-year leases and even in other countries the government gives or even leases land to their local airlines in some territories for a dollar a month to $450 a year,” Brathwaite explained.

He continued: “We are going on three years, and they have the handle, and we have the blade. At this time, we would like to be able to get our hangar up and running and be able to continue our business. If they want to rent, that is totally unacceptable to us, and we need to come to some sort of solution.”

The estimated rent on the proposed hangar is $13,500 a month, Braithwaite said.

Maintenance is costly

In the meantime, Braithwaite said the current situation is costing the company a lot more money.

He said: “The paint job on an aeroplane can last 15 to 20 years when in a hangar [but] when not in a hangar, the life span on a paint job is less than five years. A paint job starts at $20,000 to $70,000 per aircraft, travel for engineers, aircraft, parts and tools have gone up considerably, in the first few months by $60 to $80,000 due to having to go off-island to perform maintenance.”

“Our maintenance cost has doubled due to being out in the elements and the current administration has gone quite as to the fate of V I Airlink’s hangar situation. Now the current administration is putting the squeeze in my opinion on the little donkey the V I Airlink to try and recoup the lost given to outside airlines,” he pointed out.

We contribute to the economy

Meanwhile, Braithwaite said the company contributes ‘greatly’ to the local economy as the revenue remains in the BVI.

“All our finance interest stays in the BVI, all our aeroplanes are registered in the BVI, we are the only airline in the BVI that gives BVI pilots and engineers the opportunity to be in aviation. We now are met with silence and no clear answer as to the direction of a hangar for the airline and think it is a further strain and disadvantage we are being put under,” he surmised.

When BVI News contacted Premier and Finance Minster Andrew Fahie for comments, his only response was “[I am] in budget sessions”.

Back in July of last year, former Junior Minister for Tourism Archibald Christian said the previous National Democratic Party (NDP) administration should have invested in a local airline like the VI Airlink as it now has no idea of where the owners and operators of the defunct BVI Airways were located.

The present administration is now before the court with the airline’s operators in a bid to recoup the $7.2 million that was pumped into it.

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  1. Wow says:

    This is interesting.

    Like 13
    • @wow says:

      Interesting indeed. While i am not a fan of the Brathwaites and …; this matter needs to be addressed urgently.

      Like 13
    • whatever.... says:

      Disturbing rather than interesting; Antilles Helicopters have been forced to shutdown ( they call it suspend operations till further notice) due to the hangar situation [ no maintenance allowed outside of a lockable hangar]. Building their own is not permitted….

      The closure of Fly BVI also included these hangar woes. Island Birds seem to be relocating ??, VI Airlink not happy !…. These are the only general aviation companies in the BVI (Only 4) and have invested millions to help make the BVI a world class destination.

      Setting up aviation companies is not another hole selling chicken wings and I don’t see any newbe coming here to stay long term. Profit margins are thin and it’s a definite labour of love (maybe 7.2 mil incentive will help).

      We should be bending over backwards to facilitate these entrepreneurs, with their specialized skills and love for The BVI but whatever…

      Like 34
  2. Well Sah says:

    Who are we looking out for in this Territory? The Brathwaites have been providing a service around here from when Jesus was a lil boy. We should be providing hangar space free of charge for them.
    I remember in 1978 when my family chartered them to go to Barbados and then St. Thomas (a family of ten persons. They took us safely there and brought us safely back. Of course, the price was unbeatable.
    Why is it that $7.2m was thrown away and they are now being raked over the coals instead of being treated like royalty.

    Like 52
    Dislike 2
  3. Another Local Victimized by VIP says:

    VIP for the small man huh ???? Yeah right!

    They probably can’t get a kick back that’s why they treating this family or anyone who don’t give them kick back this way!

    Let this had been a white man! Andrew would drop through hoops like the man for Otterbox! SMH!

    Like 30
    Dislike 6
    • Leave race out of it says:

      This has nothing to do with race.

      Open your eyes and work together.

      This is a bad situation for everyone involved. But there is no need for your xenophobia.

      Like 26
      Dislike 2
    • @VIP for the small man huh ???? Yeah right! says:

      And also maybe the Bs didn’t contribute to the campaign funding

      Like 13
      Dislike 1
  4. Stein says:

    The VIP we all been crying for….. Otterbox coming in so no place for VI airlink…..

    Like 9
    Dislike 4
  5. For real says:

    Stay on them Brato, don’t give up the fight.

    Like 25
  6. Strumps says:

    For two years NDP left them in the cold but you want to roast a 9 month old government for this. I am sure there is no spite involved. There is no need for racial comments. Give the new government a chance to fix the mess the NDP left behind. They can’t do everything overnight. The can’t solve all the NDP problems in the blink of an eye or the snap of a finger.

    Like 13
    Dislike 22
    • ? says:

      Fix the old things first

    • What? says:

      I am tired of this tired line but give vip a chance. Come on!! We know the bottom line here. It’s nothing about time. He said that the last admin was willing to have them own their own hanger and this government does not. And that’s what they want. STOP CHATTING PISS BUT ONLY 9 MONTHS YOU IN.

  7. Who is counting says:

    Whether NDP left them hanging for two (2) years and VIP is just nine (9) months new, the problem needs to be addressed and fixed. The blame game so does not help. In my humble opinion Mr. Brathwaite (Father) should have been honored during his lifetime for pioneering in this area. It is not too late. This is an outstanding family – how many pilots, brilliant minds? Instead, we are punishing them. Come on. We need to start bigging up our people. There are some brilliant minds in the medical field that we also need to acknowledge. Do we always have to do it posthumously?

    Like 38
  8. vip heckler says:

    The VIP looks out for a small circle not the small man

    Like 16
    Dislike 1
  9. free advice says:

    go and build your hangar anegada…them cant stop yo because your mom from over there

    Like 17
  10. Concerned says:

    Give them a 99-year lease! If it was a big foreign company, deal would have been inked long time…and we still waiting for the cheaper airfare from American Airlines after they refuel at Beef Island.

    Like 6
    Dislike 1
  11. Anonymous says:

    This is so embarrassing……the previous and present government should feel shame that this reach soo far! So much for looking out for your locals! A reliable airline at that to… it in the day or the weee hours of the night during emergencies….. hanger space is needed….

  12. Home grown says:

    This is so embarrassing……the previous and present government should feel shame that this reach soo far! So much for looking out for your locals! A reliable airline at that to… it in the day or the weee hours of the night during emergencies….. hanger space is needed….

  13. Hmmm says:

    I all for local and even supported them getting some of the $7.2 million, but tbh I am tired of hearing these man now. Sickening always moaning and complaining but they always forget to talk about the hundreds of thousands to million dollars in subsidies that the government pays them to operate. Without those subsidies their business would have done shut down. They might be good pilots but horrible at business and horrible at public relations. Stop bawling and go take some business classes to get creative about running the airline in modern times and ways. Stop running to the media every time things not going your way.

    Like 5
    Dislike 10
    • @Hmmm says:

      You seem to know alot. Produce the proof of the sudsidies so the we could know. Since when talking about injustice is bawling. If you read the article instead of just posting the first thing that came to your mind you would realise that they are truely in an unfair situation. We all know there are some issues with them. Does that make the current situation fair. It is people with your mentality that sit and lie in abusice relationships and claim that it is love. Lemme just be more creative. Nonesense. Go sit down and shut up. What you are ranting about has nothing to do with the situation that they are in right now.

  14. arrrr says:

    Man…I can’t take Two hour in Antigua just coming from SK.Please work with the guys…Liat could fold any minute..These guys are role models for young Caribbean ppl too follow.Everybody should be pissed off about this. wait….rumours about others setting up?true?

  15. Hm says:

    Fire the personal security @8600₩ monthly and they’ll get their hangers. Complex will be refurbished and the Elmore stoutt high school build would come an inch further to completion

    Like 2
    Dislike 1

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