BY DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
FREEPORT – Prime Minister Perry Christie says the millions of dollars collected by the US for its control and management of the Bahamas’ airspace is a matter of deep concern for his government.
He said aircrafts are charged by the US for use of the airspace and discussions must take place on how the Bahamas can get some of the money.
Mr Christie said the national flag carrier, Bahamasair, also has to pay the US for flying over the Bahamas’ airspace.
“When an aircraft flies over Bahamian airspace, that is a chargeable matter for The Bahamas - our country makes money from it, millions from it.
“The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has that responsibility for us today. They collect the money for it and they take care of all the rescue missions in our country and making themselves available to do all of those things in consideration of them collecting that money for us, but now… we want some of that money,” he said.
The Government announced during the Speech from the Throne that “steps will be taken to address the management of the Bahamas Flight Information Region (FIR), which will permit access to overflight fees on the Bahamas’ upper airspace”. It recommitted to a pledge the former Christie administration made during its 2002-2007 tenure.
While in Grand Bahama last Friday, Mr Christie addressed the issue during the handover ceremony for the $900,000 Disaster Warehouse Building in Hawksbill.
The warehouse was built by the US government and turn over to NEMA.
US Embassy Charge d’Affaires John Dinkelman and General Charles Jacoby Jr, Commander of the Northern American Aerospace Defense Command and US Northern Command were in attendance.
He indicated the airspace is a sovereign right of the Bahamas and the country must take advantage of certain benefits available to it.
Mr Christie said it has to happen, but with the full understanding between both the US and Bahamian governments.
He said a kindred spirit has existed between the US and the Bahamas for many years.
He noted that the government ought to be able to speak about “deep-seated” concerns in the country that are relevant to US.
Mr Christie said the Bahamas has been the beneficiary of billions of dollars from American tourists over the years.
“When a plane takes off in the Bahamas, it’s in American airspace. West End, Grand Bahama, is 48 miles from West Palm Beach and Bimini is 50 miles from Miami. And so there is no question about the necessity for our countries to work together, to be strong together, and to co-exist together.”
He noted that the PLP government has to continue with the decision made by the FNM government, which borrowed some $200m for defence crafts.
“We have to do that to cover 100 square miles of water,” he said.
“As we as a nation try get stronger and stronger, the question is to what extent ought we to be driven to the forces of events in our region to spend hundred of million on defence equipment.
“We have to do it to protect our fishermen. There is no doubt in my mind that once we position the relationship between ourselves in the right way and in the right context that there would be even greater understanding, and greater willingness for them to even do more than they are doing now towards helping us for this particular reason.”
Mr Christie said the first defence craft should come stream in April.
He said the stability of the Bahamas is connected to the security of the USA.
“Coming out of the recession, over 20 per cent of young Bahamians are unemployed. That is in an incubator for crime.
“The stability of our country, therefore, ought to be of paramount concern to the USA, as it is to us,” he said.
proudloudandfnm 9 years, 1 month ago
Would be incredibly expensive to set up control over our airspace in terms of hardware and human resources. One thing is certain, no way they can do this before they are voted out in 017....
USAhelp 9 years, 1 month ago
Can't believe now we want to push the usa out what will we do next.
sheeprunner12 9 years, 1 month ago
Call in da Cubans and Hishuns
ThisIsOurs 9 years, 1 month ago
Why does he continue to do this? Why does he go to these events to publicly embarrass dignitaries? Did he learn nothing from his public tantrum with Izmarilian? Surely this would be something to discuss internally first to even see IF we could handle the responsibility. I thought we already had a shortage of flight control operators as it is. Tal, where are you? Can you please try to have a rational conversation with Mr Christie? Plead with him to take the next thing smokin' out of Oz.
ohdrap4 9 years, 1 month ago
What shortage of flight controllers? Last summer they were advertising for trainee flight controllers for the ABACO airport.
Starting salary: $10,700 with $300 increment to $18,000.
Hurry up, seats are limited.
B_I_D___ 9 years, 1 month ago
Nothing will change in this respect. We have no where near the infrastructure or man power to handle the load that the FAA currently does on our behalf. Heck, even as it is, we have underpaid and understaffed air traffic controllers who are VERY unhappy, all of a sudden we are going to push to do what needs to be done to provide cover, which will cost MILLIONS...then you need to staff to man it, which will cost you another small fortune...that is assuming you pay them what they are worth...it will be YEARS before the revenues gained, pay for the outlay that will be needed for that slice of the pie in the sky...maybe...they may not even break even years down the road.
MartGM 9 years, 1 month ago
We can't even man our own waters and Mr. Christie now wants to pander to whomever will listen to talk about nationalizing our airspace...uh huh...this man needs some serious help. Stick to matters most pressing i.e. VAT, Crime, Education, Poverty Eradication!
ThisIsOurs 9 years, 1 month ago
Not bending over, was this the proper forum to bring this up? Would you discuss a potential contract in front of a zns camera before discussing with the other party? Mr Christie has a reputation of spouting wild plans if he has more than 2 people listening. I'll bet he hasn't even discussed with Glenys Hanna or Bernard Nottage
USAhelp 9 years, 1 month ago
So we beg for help take the free boats now we deserve even more. Wont miss it till it is gone.
concernedcitizen 9 years, 1 month ago
This is pure ear candy for the under educated masses that support the PLP ,it will never happen nor can it happen but talk like this against the "big bad US " fires up the base supporters and makes them forget they don,t have jobs and and the politicians are cart ing off the treasury ,,come on Shame Gibson at NIB ,,Need i say more
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