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Deputy Pm Hits Out At 'Corporate Sabotage'

By TANEKA THOMPSON

Tribune News Editor

tmthompson@tribunemedia.net

DEPUTY Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis said last week’s “corporate sabotage” from Bahamasair pilots should quicken the government’s effort to privatise the cash-strapped airline.

He also hit out at the “irresponsible” and “selfish” acts of Bahamasair pilots, who left thousands of passengers stranded after a two-day “sick out” right before Christmas. He added that stakeholders need to realise the airline is “no longer an essential service”.

Mr Davis, who has ministerial responsibility for Bahamasair, added that the pilots’ actions did not give the government any reason to consider expanding services or routes and instead highlights the need to reduce government’s heavy financial investment in the airline, which he called a financial burden.

He also suggested that the pilots may be punished appropriately for their “unlawful” industrial action, adding that the costs incurred from the sick out may prompt him to withdraw the

government’s proposal for the pilots’ new contract.

While Mr Davis did not say what penalties, if any, the pilots would face, a well-placed source told The Tribune their pay will be docked for the missed work days. The government is also considering asking the pilots to pay for the losses the airline incurred due to the industrial action.

“The recent unprovoked and unwarranted industrial action taken by the pilots of the national flag carrier, Bahamasair, is of great concern to the government of the Bahamas in that the cost and inconvenience to the traveling public calls for immediate action to be taken to avoid further occurrences,” Mr Davis said in a statement released yesterday.

“I am deeply troubled that pilots took this unlawful and unwarranted industrial action less than six hours after being informed that the minister of labour would take their proposal to Cabinet the following day – nothing was refused, nothing was denied. The fact that they took this action anyway – without even filing a trade dispute clearly indicates it was always their intent to disrupt the airline’s ability to operate.”

He added that the government “has given considerable effort to securing a strategic partner for Bahamasair, but this gross act of corporate sabotage brings cause for acceleration of the government’s efforts to relieve the Bahamian taxpayer of this heavy financial burden. Moreover, irresponsible and selfish acts of this nature do not provide the shareholder with an incentive to pursue any form of service or route expansion. In fact this behaviour demonstrates the need to fully consider the merits of retrenchment as a more realistic course of action.”

Up to June 2013, the government has pumped $541 million into Bahamasair since its creation 41 years ago. Mr Davis said this funding could have gone to build new schools or hospitals, improve infrastructure or be used in the fight against crime.

“Quite frankly, all concerned must come to grips with the reality that Bahamasair is no longer an essential service,” he added.

He said international airlines provide most of the airline traffic into the country while over the past eight years, 31 local carriers have been licensed to provide scheduled services in the country.

He also said Bahamasair pilots are well-paid, earning more than regional counterparts despite having less flying hours.

“The facts are, a senior jet captain with Bahamasair makes up to $132,000 annually before overtime. By comparison a Bahamasair senior Dash 8 captain makes up to $91,000 which is staggering when considering that his regional equivalent with LIAT airways makes $36,000 annually after 15 per cent income tax. Additionally, pilots make up only ten per cent of the entire staff at Bahamasair but account for 30 per cent of the payroll; there is something wrong with this picture.”

Mr Davis said these points would lead any reasonable thinking person to agree that the pilots’ actions were unconsionable.

“I have directed that management provide me with the full costing of the past week’s events,” he added. “In full view of the costs and embarrassment to the company and the pilots’ insensitivity to the Bahamian people, their recent action may have consumed the limited resources necessary to facilitate our last proposal and may necessitate that we withdraw that proposal. Moreover, the financial impact of recent events is nowhere as damaging as will be the negative publicity received from local and international travellers, which is immeasurable. This may take years to recover from, especially when hearing locals say they will never fly Bahamasair again balanced against the comments of tourists who say ‘they will never return to the Bahamas,’ all as a result of this terrible experience brought on by the actions of a group of selfish individuals.”

On December 24, Bahamasair said it had “resumed normal operations” and the “sick out” had ended.

The sick out began last week Monday after failed negotiations over the pilots’ new contract with the government.

On Tuesday, Captain Joseph Moxey, the president of the Bahamas Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), said his members are “not being unreasonable” in their demands for increment pay.

He apologised to the public for the situation, but said the pilots were “stressed out and mentally drained” and it was not safe for them to fly a plane in that state.

Comments

asiseeit 6 years ago

Fire them all. No sweet talk, Bahamas Air is a burden to the taxpayer and quite frankly offers less than stellar service, they are nothing special. Shut it down!

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B_I_D___ 6 years ago

Agreed...calling it a 'sick out' and claiming the pilots were too stressed to fly just rubs more salt in the wounds. What little respect I had for the Bahamasair pilots is gone for good now. Can them all...unload this poor excuse of an air carrier onto some poor unfortunate private entity. I'm done having to pay my taxes to subsidize this crap.

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realfreethinker 6 years ago

I am not sorry for the government this shit should have been unloaded many years ago. but like every thing in this country they have to count the votes.

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TalRussell 6 years ago

http://tribune242.com/users/photos/20...">http://thetribune.media.clients.ellin..." alt="None">

by TalRussell

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Rinks 6 years ago

Just privatized this crappy airline....what are we holding on to this shit for

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ohdrap4 6 years ago

so that I do not have to fly 'Ferguson Air" or "Flamingo Air".

Sky bahamas crashed in marsh harbour too.

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TalRussell 6 years ago

Comrades since the PM and DPM (Davis & Co) ain't talking, just maybe considering the amount taxpayers be putting into paychecks Bahamasair pilots, they are okay to be reporting to the Tribune News Room, what they seeing from up in sky's - about the Oil Rig they are saying has been spotted off Abaco?

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John 6 years ago

Did they find the missing Asian Airliner yet?

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ThisIsOurs 6 years ago

What about BEC? They did the same thing but got Christmas bonuses(??!?). No electricity, Atlantis guests without lights for HOURS, plant burned down...when is their slap on the wrist coming?

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spoitier 6 years ago

It is high time for the government to get out of running all businesses and sell them off to a private company without interfering on how that company can run the business that is another reason why it will be hard to find a company to buy Bahamas Air or BEC. Those company will never be profitable under the government because they are overstaffed. The government needs to get busy trying to find other industries for the Bahamas then they wouldn't be forced to overstaff business that is ran by the government.

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Andrewharris 6 years ago

shut it down lets move on,. enough is enough. Less talk more action.

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empathy 6 years ago

Hopefully this episode along with the debacle that is BEC will convince politicians, even the most strident socialist, that "government owned" is rarely a good policy. Especially as an economic or efficiency concept. Selfish government employees have no concept of business responsibilities and are not worth the political headache they cause. Anyone who owns a business or whose income is tied to business (or one's own) performance understands that a pay raise, or god forbid a"bonuses" in a company whose income is "in the red" is incongruous. Privatization, with competition, is the only way to solve our government's fiscal woes. So it must be for Bahamas Air, fortunately as stated by the DPM there is already competition, and for BEC. However without liberalization of electrical generation and distribution we'll face the same shoddy service from BEC as we now get from BTC (C&W) and Cable Bahamas. So I join the voices calling for private ownership at both these entities, however we need to also fight for the allowance and encouragement of competition which is what actually makes privatization successful and ensures consumers get the best prices and services.

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Stapedius 6 years ago

Poor union leadership. The problem with the unions in this country is that their brains appear to be too minute for good sense. How could the pilots of a financially failing airline which is subsidised by the taxpayers of this country think its ok to strike? The same goes for BEC. Your pay is by far higher than majority of Bahamians and yall want play the @$#. Simply put we should close the airline and let them look elsewhere for work. The leader of this action should have more sense to know how to handle these siruations. Again, a failing airline, with poor service and subsidized. Three strikes you're out. No more games with people who feel entitled. Public support is a b/@#$ and you have to know what angle to take to get the right result. The Bahamian public is pissed and rightfully so.

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spoitier 6 years ago

You're right about Bahamas Air because clients could find alternative measures to travel but BEC is the only power company around so a strike wouldn't necessarily put a company in a position where they could make a counter move and shut the whole company down, not advocating for BEC to go on strike but alt least they have more leverage. Like you say the union have poor leadership on not knowing that Bahamas Air is only around because of national pride and cronyism and not because it is really needed.

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professionalbahamian 6 years ago

Yes please privatize it. Save face by watching a newly structured private Bahamasair make a profit. Wouldn't that be something to see after all the subsidies over the years.

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spoitier 6 years ago

The bad thing about a country that is small like the Bahamas and have the mindset as the people in the Bahamas is no government will have the courage to make the big decision and sell those companies because whoever buy the company will definitely cut staff in an attempt to be profitable and that will cost that party that sold the company the next election for sure. I blame the government for all the corruption by taking kickbacks and not having any vision for the future of the Bahamas but I blame the people for not understanding good business decision and what is good for the country in the long run and in a way forcing the government to make bad decision in fear of being voted out.

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John 6 years ago

In November I was spending $200 week on gas for my truck. Now I am spending $120 By mid January i expect to be spending $90 ans even less in March. My light bill is even higher this month than it was in November! If this government gets it act together the cost of living should go dowm by 30 percent by June. Corruption and government slackness keeping us broke

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B_I_D___ 6 years ago

Your gas prices are going back up next week John...thanks to VAT

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Tommy77 6 years ago

What a mess. http://s04.flagcounter.com/mini/kfoW/..." style="display:none" />

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ted4bz 6 years ago

Most comments here are based on political spin, don't fall for it: the pilots are doing an immaculate job, not one fatality from the time Bahamasair existed. Now compare this to the politicians Bahamasair have crashed and burned a long time ago under these non-practical people who are hijacking, crashing and burning down this country.

  1. The DPM is being personal and political far from being honest and professional.
  2. Take Bahamasair out of control of the government, their friends and over staffing of their constituents.
  3. Downsizing of Bahamasair services, routs, employees is necessary including, partnership and flight sharing with other local carriers as well as technical services to other carriers.

Bahamasair is a viable service for this country and for this country remove the politics and friendship out of it and watch profits fly.

Air Jamaica is flying wide bodies all around the world out of Jamaica while Bahamasair is struggling with a few islands and a few cities in Florida, this is dispicable. Bahamasair can exists and function very profitably, get rid of the politics out of Bahamasair and every cooperation in this country.

We seem to be in love with the foreigners so maybe it would do better with a foreign government once again!

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Stapedius 6 years ago

You arecorrect about Air Jamaica. But you neglected to mention that the Jamaican government only holds about 15%of the shares and are in not direct operational control of the airline. That airline is under the Caribbean airlines fleet and the operations and financing mostly goes through them. Air Jamaica has had its share of financial problems but at least someone had the good sense to sell it. The government has no business in the airline industry and if we believe in free market economies the government should butt out. Sorry to say but Bahamasair is not a viable service for the Bahamas. At least not in its current state. Costly, inefficient and overstaffed. We are too PC in this country. We must be decent to each other I would agree but penalties must be levied, fines payed for nonsense. Cut it loose and let the cream rise to the top. If you are a good pilot you will get a job when the new company is formed or you will land a job with another airline. We seem to be holding on to Bahamasair to save jobs. Bahamasair has been a financial blackhole for years, we simply need to move away from these silly ideas that it is working well.

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