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25 March 2020
Cape Town Convention
Airspace monetisation and control
Runway rehabilitation project
There was much progress in The Bahamas' aviation sector in 2019; in particular, the completion of the runway rehabilitation project at the country's gateway airport (Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA)) and the aircraft registry project. Unfortunately, there were also a few setbacks.
In April 2019 the government signed a memorandum of understanding with the Aircraft Registry Group (ARG), which is the parent company of the registries of Aruba and San Marino. In October 2019 Cabinet sanctioned its approval of the draft agreement presented to it by the Aviation Steering Committee (ASC), which is now before the Office of the Attorney General for the final sign off.
As part of the government's and The Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority's (BCAA) commitment to enhance the aviation sector, the ARG has also been engaged to assist the BCAA in preparing for the country's next International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) audit scheduled for Spring 2021. This audit was to take place last year; however, the BCAA requested an extension. The ARG's team will collaborate with the BCAA to ensure that The Bahamas is in full compliance with the ICAO Annexes.
Jorge Colindres, the ARG's executive chair, said that its intention is to create a premier jurisdiction that will comply with the highest aviation standards and practices.
Draft legislation submitted by the ASC currently rests with the Office of the Attorney General. The government and the BCAA recognise the need to create a register of aircraft mortgages and the ratification of the Cape Town Convention to compliment this. The minister continues to stress this point.
For the past 25 years, The Bahamas has seriously considered regaining management and control of its airspace; currently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) manages 75% of The Bahamas' airspace, with Cuba managing 25%. In 2019 the government issued a request for proposals for the monetisation and control of The Bahamas' airspace, a portion of which has been managed by the FAA since 1952. A number of requests were received by the evaluation committee, all of which were rejected. Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D'Aguilar announced that "additional information" was needed to fully satisfy the government's requirements pertaining to fees (ie, the structure, how the charge will be levied and the rate at which the fees will be charged). Therefore, the decision was made to postpone the project until 1 January 2021.
The project, which commenced in June 2019, has been completed and two runway operations have been restored at LPIA as well as the use of taxiway H.
The government's optimism regarding improvements to the country's aviation sector continues. On 27 January 2020 the governments of The Bahamas and the United States signed the Air Transport Agreement. The agreement is the first to be negotiated by the two countries and is another example of the government's commitment to advance aviation in The Bahamas. The agreement includes an open skies policy, unrestricted capacity and frequency of flights and opportunities for code sharing among carriers. The minister of tourism and aviation commented that the agreement will boost tourism and commits both governments to high standards of aviation safety and security. He said that it also provides for the liberalisation of civil aviation in the Caribbean and The Bahamas, which will allow The Bahamas to compete worldwide. What is unknown at this stage is what the fallout of the coronavirus will be in terms of the BCAA achieving its goals.
For further information on this topic please contact Llewellyn V Boyer-Cartwright at HarleyJames by telephone (+1 242 327 7275) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The HarleyJames website can be accessed at www.harleyjames.law.
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