In 2020 the Civil Aviation Authority Bahamas made several important advances despite the COVID-19 pandemic, including restoring and boosting air travel to, from and within The Bahamas, presenting three pieces of legislation to Parliament and addressing other ongoing challenges. These developments will place the country on a strong footing as it emerges from the pandemic.
The introduction of three new bills will herald the dawning of a new age in aviation in The Bahamas and position the jurisdiction to attain the international recognition that it deserves. These bills – the Civil Aviation Bill, the Civil Aviation Authority Bill and the Air Navigation Services Authority Bill – address the issues arising from, and remedy the defects found in, the 2017 International Civil Aviation Organisation audit, the current Civil Aviation Act and the Civil Aviation (General) Regulations.
Like the rest of the world, the Bahamian aviation sector continues to reel from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D'Aguilar recently addressed the easing of restrictions on air travel to, from and within The Bahamas. A travel health visa, subject to certain exceptions (eg, children under 10 years of age and crew of commercial airlines), is still required by persons travelling into or within The Bahamas.
The overall effect of the COVID-19 crisis on the Bahamian aviation sector is unknown and may be for some time; however, there is no doubt that the short-term effects have been severe. Tourism and aviation in The Bahamas go hand in hand, with one affecting the other. The pandemic may provide an opportunity for the country's aviation industry, as there is increasing interest from private aircraft owners and those willing to spend a little more in order to avoid the constraints of scheduled commercial travel.
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the global aviation industry on its head with operations slowly grinding to a complete halt. At present, no international or domestic flights are permitted to operate to, from or within The Bahamas with the exception of those authorised by The Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority to conduct cargo or emergency relief flights.