By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The government's aircraft registry ambitions are critical to developing a "best in class aviation sector", a Cabinet minister telling Tribune Business yesterday: "Now the journey begins."
Dionisio D'Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation, told Tribune Business he was aiming to implement the necessary legislative and regulatory changes to facilitate the registry's creation within the next 12 to 18 months.
He disclosed that the government is also seeking to conclude a final agreement with Aviation Registry Group (ARG), the company responsible for developing aircraft registries in Aruba and San Marino, "as soon as possible" so it can take the lead in performing a similar role for The Bahamas.
Besides creating a potential multi-million dollar revenue stream for the government, and enhancing The Bahamas' attraction as a "jurisdiction of choice" for high net worth individuals, Mr D'Aguilar said an international aircraft registry will also force improvements that will make the civil aviation regulatory regime "top of class".
Describing his ministry as "very motivated indeed" to realise its aviation registry ambitions, he added that its economic impact would "span the entire aviation sector" through new and increased revenue streams plus the creation of additional jobs.
While the development of a Bahamian aircraft registry has been discussed for years, Mr D'Aguilar said moves were finally "underway" to turn this into action through the contracting of ARG and legal upgrades essential to ensuring its competitiveness.
The Government has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ARG, and the minister added that it was now seeking to convert this into a full agreement "as soon as possible".
"We've agreed to conclude an agreement with ARG, the company that has rolled out a number of aircraft registries in other jurisdictions, and then the process will commence to ensure our laws and regulations are geared towards the enhancement and launch of an aircraft registry," Mr D'Aguilar told Tribune Business.
"There are certain adjustments that we're going to have to make, and certain enhancements we will have to make to our Civil Aviation Authority to make our jurisdiction attractive for an aircraft registry. That process is now underway. We've selected the company, and now the journey begins in conjunction with Civil Aviation."
Mr D'Aguilar added that ARG will be tasked with "putting in place the necessary infrastructure, both regulatory and commercial" so that a Bahamian aircraft registry can start attracting business and flourish. He said the legal and regulatory upgrades will likely be implemented "over the next 12-18 months" as Parliament's legislative schedule allows.
Leading these reforms will likely be the creation of an aircraft mortgages register, and signing on to the Cape Town Treaty (Aircraft Convention), as both will show The Bahamas is serious and to complement the aircraft registry's creation.
The Cape Town Treaty (Aircraft Convention) is particularly important because it gives financiers and leasing companies confidence that their liens and charges over planes - and plane parts - will be recognised and secure whatever jurisdiction the craft is in.
Bahamas-based companies and residents typically have to pay more when leasing aircraft from US companies because this nation is not a Cape Town Convention signatory, and the owner wants extra compensation for the extra risk.
While unable to quantify an aircraft registry's likely economic impact, Mr D'Aguilar told Tribune Business: "I want the Bahamian people to think of it in much the same way as the Bahamas Maritime Authority. That has been in operation much longer, and has greater traction, but this is another attempt to build a revenue stream for the Government of The Bahamas.
"We are pursuing it as a potential revenue stream. We're not sure how much revenue, but all indications are this is quite significant. And the biggest advantage will be our competitiveness. This will be another tool in our chest that makes The Bahamas an attractive jurisdiction for the world's affluent millionaires and billionaires to choose The Bahamas as a jurisdiction of choice."
A competitive Bahamian aircraft registry has been viewed as a value-added complement to the financial services industry's high-end clients, many of whom own or lease planes. It also fits in with the shipping registry and other efforts to expand and diversify the economy.
Virtually all the Bahamas' international financial centre (IFC) rivals possess their own aircraft registries, too, meaning that this nation is again lagging the competition when it comes to products and services demanded by its target market.
"Another advantage is that it will cause focus to be brought to the civil aviation regulatory environment, enhancing it and making it top of class; world class in order to attract aircraft to our registry," Mr D'Aguilar told this newspaper.
"It will create jobs in terms of inspections, maintenance and repairs. People will come here to have their planes inspected. It creates hangar storage, businesses for aircraft maintenance, inspections and the like, and has the advantage of creating employment opportunities. The benefits span the entire aviation sector.
"It's important to pursue this for the reasons mentioned, but also to create this best in class sector that becomes a flag of choice."
Mr D'Aguilar said responsibility for closing the ARG contract lay with the Air Transport Advisory Board, which is chaired by Higgs & Johnson attorney and partner, Michael Allen. Other Board members include Callenders & Co attorneys, Carey Leonard and Llewellyn Boyer-Cartwright, the latter of whom has championed the aircraft registry's development.
Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 7 months ago
The one sentence quoted immediately above says it all. Few nations can beat the Bahamas when it comes to "lagging"!
TheMadHatter 3 years, 7 months ago
Mr. D'Aguilar, the country can't ever become "best in its class" when most students have a D average. Try fix the idiotic BGCSE system first, then the sky may become your limit. At the moment, your plane tire flat and your propeller crooked.
Ton_Heijnmans 3 years, 7 months ago
... This is an announcement of nothing.
No jobs. No results. Nothing concrete or tangible.
Just a little Leprechaun... who lives to see the looks of himself spread across the big White, broadsheet.
And lots, and lots, of black ink underneath.
Lauding the little Leprechaun... signing it praises.
proudloudandfnm 3 years, 7 months ago
About damned time, we have one of the best ship registries in the world, what took so long to do this? Excellent idea....
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