By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A well-know Bahamian airline executive yesterday warned against potential government "overreach" and "demoralisation" of the aviation sector as the Government bids to crack down on rogue operators.
Sky Bahamas chief executive, Captain Randy Butler, pictured, suggested that the "flights threshold" proposed by a cabinet minister would be illegal and exceed his authority. Instead, he called for a "balanced approach" and one which would not "undermine" the industry.
"I have forewarned the Civil Aviation Authority that you want to provide a balanced approach, partnering with the industry to ensure the highest safety standards are maintained," said Captain Butler.
"It's going to be interesting to see whatever number they will set. No one in the world is doing that. We will be coming up with something the international watchdogs will definitely speak out against.
"I don't blame the minister because his technical and legal people should be able to advise him on that. We have more than enough regulations. The regulations aren't the problem; it's the implementation of the regulations. Right now they could confiscate airlines. The minister right now can confiscate an aircraft operating illegally. The government just has to demonstrate the political will to enforce what rules are there now. It will make a difference."
Captain Butler spoke out after Dionisio D'Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation, in a recent Tribune Business interview revealed he is pushing for a "threshold mechanism" to address a regulatory "quirk" that aids rogue pilots in the Bahamian aviation industry.
Mr D'Aguilar said he is eyeing a system where the number of monthly flights would be used to determine whether a pilot was offering commercial services and carrying paying passengers.
But Captain Butler warned that such a concept has the potential to adversely impact the private aviation sector. "These measures he is talking about are going to interfere and, I dare say, may impact the private flyers. You don't want to demoralise or over-regulate the industry because that's just going to stagnate the system," he added.
The Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA), during a press conference last week, revealed its plans to crack down on rogue operators within the industry. It has come under increasing pressure to act following January's fatal plane crash off Mastic Point, Andros, which resulted in the loss of six lives.
The incident highlighted problems relating to a lack of enforcement and oversight within the aviation industry, after it emerged that the pilot involved lacked the necessary licences to offer charter services to paying passengers.