By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Bahamas must develop “glaring advantages” over rival jurisdictions if its proposed aircraft registry is to overcome its late market entrance, a Cabinet minister admitted yesterday.
Dionisio D’Aguilar, pictured, minister of tourism and aviation, voiced optimism that hiring Aviation Registry Group to structure the registry would combine with The Bahamas’ traditional advantages such as its US proximity and stable, democratic nature to give it a competitive advantage over more established rivals.
Describing an aircraft registry as a “natural add-on” to The Bahamas’ existing industries and efforts to target high net worth individuals, Mr D’Aguilar said it was vital that this nation seek out new investment and revenue sources as the financial services sector’s traditional business model “slowly diminishes”.
Describing the initiative as being in the Government’s “top five” aviation priorities, he added that it was one where the private sector was working with the Government to “craft” a facility that would generate long-term economic benefits for The Bahamas.
Mr D’Aguilar said “the best and brightest minds in the country” were members of the aircraft registry working group, including specialist aviation attorneys Michael Allen of Higgs & Johnson plus the Callenders & Co duo, Carey Leonard and Llewellyn Boyer-Cartwright. Captain Randy Butler, Sky Bahamas chief executive, is also in the group.
Expressing satisfaction with the group’s “superb” progress, he added: “For the amount we intend to invest in it, which I don’t intend to reveal, the returns will be quite significant and it will make us a more attractive destination for persons wishing to register their plane.
“As the financial services sector begins to diminish, we have to look for other revenue sources and means by which to replace what is a slowly diminishing industry. We’re actively looking for other sources to start to help offset the blow.”
Mr D’Aguilar said an aircraft registry was a good value-added service to offer The Bahamas’ wealthy second homeowners and financial services clients, and would operate in a similar fashion to the successful shipping registry.
“In the aviation sector we have many priorities, but certainly this is within the top five,” he told Tribune Business. “We want to build an aviation registry that works well. We have a lot of things going in our favour - an English-speaking common law state that is a democracy, with an established legal system, and is close to the US.
“All these natural benefits we have will cause our registry to be more attractive than those in other jurisdictions. We have to make sure it works seamlessly well and does not get tied up with ease of business concerns that we have.
“That’s what we’re trying to craft because there’s competition, and we’re kind of late establishing this facility. We have to come with certain glaring advantages to cause it to move. This is an industry that’s growing, affluence worldwide is increasing at a phenomenal rate, and more and more people are going into getting their own aircraft. We’ve identified this as a growth sector.”
Mr D’Aguilar said the identification, and exploitation, of such “glaring advantages” will be the responsibility of the Aviation Registry Group (ARG), the entity responsible for creating Aruba and San Marino’s aircraft registries, which was identified by the working group as the best contender to execute The Bahamas’ strategy