Concerns are being raised over the ability of any aircraft to enter the territory via the Auguste George Airport on Anegada without having to communicate with air traffic control tower operators based at the TB Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island.
Describing it as a “serious national risk”, Premier Andrew Fahie said the matter must be addressed, adding that a near-$1 million solution is being considered.
“Anegada has no Customs and Immigration checkpoints and what is happening at present is that persons are flying into Anegada without the knowledge of the [BVI Airports] Authority, Customs or Immigration. Those persons are then using ferries as domestic travellers to move from one island to the next,” Premier Fahie said at a recent sitting of the House of Assembly.
“This situation can facilitate illegal drugs, undesirable persons and contraband entering our territory,” he added.
The Premier explained that Anegada falls outside of the BVI’s controlled airspace. And because the far-flung sister island is in an ‘undefined airspace’, aircraft operators are free to come and go from the Anegada airport without any regulation from local authorities.
BVI losing $$
Fahie, who is also the Finance Minister, said the British Virgin Islands is losing money as a result of the loophole.
“It deprives the territory of the opportunity to collect the $10 Environmental Fee and duties on goods as applicable,” he said.
Fahie said 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 redefinement would cost roughly $900,000.
“It is imperative that the airspace in the territory be redefined to include all the sovereign islands,” Fahie argued.
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