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Airline Had Ok To Carry On Flying

A Bahamasair plane. (File photo)

A Bahamasair plane. (File photo)

By Khrisna Virgil

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

AS Bahamasair continues to investigate who is at fault for three of its jets being blocked from flying to the US, officials have recently discovered that the airline was granted a waiver until 2024 to continue operations, but were unaware of its stipulations.

According to Bahamasair chairman Tommy Turnquest yesterday, “it wasn’t until a member on the executive team read the (Federal Aviation Administration) waiver fully” and was able to determine that the jet flights were allowed but at the risk of daily scheduling.

Mr Turnquest made the revelation yesterday when he was asked whether the board of directors was looking into holding someone accountable for the oversight.

He added that last Wednesday, the government was refunded $200,000 from supplier Fokker for reneging on its agreement to deliver three avionic kits for the company’s three 737-500 planes.

The situation, Mr Turnquest told The Tribune, is expected to be rectified by January 31 with the services of a new supplier, putting an end to the FAA grounding the aircraft.

“Yes (but) Bahamasair has an excellent maintenance facility in terms of what we do,” he said, responding to a question on whether there would be fall out over the missed deadline.

“Unfortunately what happened was, as we’re finding out, they thought we had a waiver so they weren’t trying to get the navigational equipment quite as quickly as we thought they should have asked us.

“After Fokker didn’t fulfil its obligation, we got a waiver from the FAA, which allows us to fly the planes into the US until 2024. The problem was it requires us to request special permission each and every time we are about to fly that plane into the United States.

“We thought that that was too restrictive.

“The problem was that when they said we had the waiver, we did have a waiver per se but not one for a scheduled airline like Bahamasair that made sense,” Mr Turnquest continued. “It wasn’t until a member on the executive team read the waiver fully and was then able to say ‘yeah we could go, but it makes no sense putting our schedule in that type of risk.’”

While he did not disclose who the airline’s new supplier is, Mr Turnquest said the company has already completed engineering for the navigational kits.

“They are going to provide it for us this week and we’ve made provisions starting on Monday of next week to put the first one in. We will finish that one by Friday (January) the 24 and then we’ll start the second one, which we’ll finish by the 31st of January.”

The third kit will be put in at a facility where the third jet is undergoing heavy maintenance. This process will take about 70 days, Mr Turnquest said.

Throughout the ordeal, the chairman said he was disappointed that many customers believed Bahamasair had been completely banned from flights to the US.

However, he said, at no time did the company, which has nine planes, have to change scheduling.

“What disappointed me is people thought that Bahamasair couldn’t fly into the United States. People called me and said they had reservations asking if we were going, but we didn’t change any of our schedules and we fulfilled all of our obligations.

“The only reason we wet leased on those two flights is because we had a heavy load on those two flights. But the 737-700 has been back and forth and all of our ATRs are able to fly to the US so there was no problem about Bahamasair going to the US.”

Ultimately, he said, the wet lease resulted in a $23,000 profit for the airline.

“It cost us around $42,000 and we were able to sell 157 or so seats. The plane is able to carry 160 passengers, so we actually put $22,000 to the bottom line, $23,000 actually.”

Last week, Mr Turnquest told another media outlet he was blindsided by the situation, insisting he should have been made aware of the issues with Fokker sooner.

Earlier this month, The Tribune reported how three of Bahamasair’s largest planes had been blocked from entering the United States because they lacked surveillance technology demanded by the FAA.

The FAA in 2010 issued a rule requiring aircraft to be equipped with ADS-B avionics by January 1, 2020. The technology improves safety and efficiency in the air and on runways through its tracking capabilities.

However, it was difficult for Bahamasair to secure necessary kits for the company’s 737-500 planes, an older generation of Boeing jets.

The company signed a contract in June for a supplier to deliver three kits in September, October and November of last year but that supplier reneged on its responsibilities, Mr Turnquest had said earlier.  The airline had paid the company $200,000 of its $600,000 contract.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 5 months, 3 weeks ago

......officials have recently discovered that the airline was granted a waiver until 2024 to continue operations, but were unaware of its stipulations.

According to Bahamasair chairman Tommy Turnquest yesterday, “it wasn’t until a member on the executive team read the (Federal Aviation Administration) waiver fully” and was able to determine that the jet flights were allowed....

The only key person to be held fully responsible and accountable for this debacle is Tommy Turnquest himself. But this incompetent buffoon will never fall on his own sword as he most deservedly should do. It is therefore incumbent on D'Aguilar, as the Minister with responsibility for Bahamasair, and PM Minnis, to do the only right thing and make the grossly incompetent Tommy Turnquest immediately step down from his chairmanship/directorship of Bahamasair. The Bahamian people, taxpayers and flying public deserve nothing less than this course of action.

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ThisIsOurs 5 months, 3 weeks ago

"it wasn’t until a member on the executive team read the (Federal Aviation Administration) waiver fully"

this is too good not to repeat... only that one executive team can read. no managers, lawyers or compliance persons on staff. They need to double that persons salary

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moncurcool 5 months, 3 weeks ago

no way this should happen and not one person head rolls for it

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TalRussell 5 months, 3 weeks ago

At very moment PMO snatches stuff right out from under the responsibility colony's substantive crown minister for Weed, the national flag carrier's political appointee comrade "Tiny" Tommy is placed into national service in an attempt deflect reporters questions away from colony's First Viscount a.k.a prime minister. If "Tiny" Tommy, hadn't say it, I couldn't just blog it!

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BMW 5 months, 3 weeks ago

If they were able to continue flying into US airspace why did they not continue to do so? I will call it what I see it as BULLSHIT!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 5 months, 3 weeks ago

And you're absolutely right in doing so BMW. Nothing but BS galore!

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KingKRool 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Well its obvious, even if they had clearance why they didn't fly. Doesn't take a rocket science to understand that part. Yes someone dropped the ball but it was best they not fly.Its like the same old heads commenting on here everyday with nonsense. Let's get a fresh prospective.

You'll need to travel and read more. "Scheduling" has to be done days in advanced and has to be approved by the FAA. BahamasAir are hardly ever on time. If BahamasAir had met the requirements then they could have continued business as usual with filing flight plans which can be done 1-2 hours before a flight. That would be total organized chaos for them to operate that way! You'll can comprehend the rest from here. -King K Rool

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