The Bahamas needs “quick but careful movement” in establishing a competitive international aircraft registry, an attorney warning that its competitors had already made “great inroads” and stolen a march on it.
While acknowledging that the Bahamas needed to “get it right”, in terms of developing a quality aircraft registry that embodied the highest international standards, Llewellyn Boyer-Cartwright said it needed to watch what rival international financial centres were doing.
On the positive side, Mr Boyer-Cartwright’s cries appear to have been answered. Twice in the last month, Prime Minister Perry Christie noted the Government’s intention to establish an international aircraft registry, most recently at the gathering of leaders in financial services and investments in Grand Bahama.
“When the Prime Minister spoke at the Bahamas International Investment Conference in Grand Bahama and mentioned the Bahamas Maritime Authority, Bahamas Yacht Registry, and announced the Bahamas International Aviation Registry, it was very encouraging,” said Mr Boyer-Cartwright.
“The conference showed that this administration is very progressive, seriously looking for business solutions. That theme was reflected in remarks by the minister of tourism, Obie Wilchcombe, and minister of financial services, Ryan Pinder, among others.
“When the Prime Minister mentioned a Bahamas international aircraft registry, it was especially heartening because I believe it was the second time in as many months that the commitment to create a registry had been stated publicly, and it was in front of such a prestigious audience.”
Mr Boyer-Cartwright added that he was not the first to call for a registry. “The Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB), which is again active in the campaign, commissioned a review and presented a report to government in 1999,” he said. “That was 14 years ago.” But the idea never really took off.
In the years since the first presentation, and, Mr Boyer-Cartwright’s renewal of the call gaining steam, the aviation industry has undergone dramatic changes through an explosion of private and corporate jet aircraft flying the skies, the type of aircraft he says would make up the bulk of the registry.
“Other jurisdictions are realising the benefits an aircraft registry brings,” said the attorney, who packed his passion for aviation into a legal career specialising in aviation law, and is now a partner at Callenders & Co.
“Cayman, Bermuda, Isle of Man are all hugely successful, and most recently, BVI (British Virgin Islands) introduced additional legislation, expanding and strengthening its aircraft registry.
“These jurisdictions realise it adds another level of service for the high net worth individual, particularly when it comes to aircraft financing and insurance.”
Mr Boyer-Cartwright added: “I must say that the Government was well aware of its potential and moved very quickly. The Ministry of Transport and Aviation under Glenys Hanna-Martin appointed a consultative committee, and that committee is actively meeting and preparing a report to be presented to government.”
Mr Boyer-Cartwright and the BFSB both serve on the committee, along with various government representatives.
He added: “I just wanted to commend the Government and urge quick but careful movement, because the competition is already making great inroads.
“It is important to get it right, to create an exceptionally high quality registry with stringent standards just as our ship registry is, but it is also critical to keep an eye on the competition.”
Mr Boyer-Cartwright is heading to an aviation conference in Malta next week, where he is due to meet with top industry authorities, followed by a visit to the Isle of Man, where he will meet with others in the aviation industry.
Malta’s registry has shown dramatic growth recently, he said, and he is interested in exploring the reasons for its leap and sharing that information with the consultative committee.