By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
WITH operational costs mounting and revenue at an all-time low, Sky Bahamas CEO Captain Randy Butler told The Tribune he is fighting an uphill battle in an ongoing standoff with the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority.
In an interview yesterday, Captain Butler further suggested the effects of this standoff has had a trickle-down effect, “creating more hardship on our team members, passengers, industry business partners and charities depending on our assistance each month”.
The airline has been grounded since July 8 over issues regarding its air operator certificate (AOC).
He further revealed that Sky Bahamas’ ticket counter at the Lynden Pindling International Airport also had to be shut down.
By all indications yesterday, it was his suggestion that there were issues paying employees, leading him to blast the regulator for “turning us around”.
Asked if he was now facing a decision to lay off workers until the impasse blew over, Mr Butler placed blame on the BCAA saying: “How do you lay them off?
“Every day we are thinking we are coming to work. If they had told us you are not going to be operating for two weeks or so then we could do that. We could pull the plug and close the doors and turn off the lights and the cost continues.
“But they have not done that; I have written and stood and begged and pled. I’ve been here. I have people from the outside write me, post on my Facebook telling me this can’t be right.”
He also said: “I come here every day in the office looking at my phone because we have sent emails and letters to them asking them ‘what is going on BCA?’ and I am sitting here waiting for them to call me or send me an email or send me a letter and send me my AOC.
“I have business to do. It is disrupting our reputation. I won’t talk about the cost, the financial cost and the effect on people including your team members.”
The situation he said has been exacerbated by the airline having to shell out additional funds to hire charters to fulfil prepaid reservations.
Ultimately he made yet another appeal for the powers that be to intervene in a situation that has “so much at stake”.
“I want my team to come here and maybe a group of us can call the minister and maybe even the prime minister and say 70 or 63 of us sitting here with our children on our laps and planned for food and to do extra things to help with back to school.
“School now is coming please if there is an issue with Sky Bahamas and it’s not fixed please tell us. All of us will roll up our sleeves here and fix it.”
He said at this point he was simply hanging on to faith that one day the situation would have been resolved.
Last month Transport and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar declined to intervene in this dispute.
Instead he urged Captain Butler to continue meeting with the BCAA and “work out” his differences.
At the time he said: “I believe, although I haven’t confirmed, that he had discussions with the regulator. I want to be very clear: No minister of aviation with any sense is going to intervene on a safety issue.
“If Sky Bahamas has a matter before the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority, it’s up to him to figure out how to get the necessary approvals in order for him to obtain his air operating certificate (AOC).”
Mr D’Aguilar continued: “I don’t have the technical expertise to intervene on his behalf; this is something he has to work out with the regulator. The aviation sector is highly regulated with a lot of technical standards and technical rules, which the regulator knows and the operating airlines know.
“He needs to sit with the regulator and work out what difference he has in order to bring ease and calm to the matter, and put the regulator at bay to fulfill all of the requirements that he has.”
The AOC is the permit required for an airline to carry fare-paying passengers.