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13 years later, Millions spent on ASSI, still no Civil Aviation Dept for VI

- Hon Archibald C. Christian wants the Civil Aviation Department returned to the Virgin Islands
Junior Minister for Tourism Hon Archibald C. Christian (right) wants the Civil Aviation Department returned to the Virgin Islands. British based Air Safety Support International (ASSI) is currently the Virgin Islands Regulator of the civil aviation industry. Photo: GIS/File
Left: Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island. Right: Mr Andrew L. St Hilaire holds the substantive post of Director of Civil Aviation Department. Photo: VINO/File
Left: Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island. Right: Mr Andrew L. St Hilaire holds the substantive post of Director of Civil Aviation Department. Photo: VINO/File
The Taddy Bay Airport on Virgin Gorda (left) and the Auguste George Airport on Anegada (right). Photo: Internet Source/VINO
The Taddy Bay Airport on Virgin Gorda (left) and the Auguste George Airport on Anegada (right). Photo: Internet Source/VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- After some 13 years (2004) since the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) killed the government Civil Aviation Department and allowed the British based Air Safety Support International (ASSI) to be the Virgin Islands Regulator of the civil aviation industry, there is little hope of the Government Department returning.

It is costing tax payers some $400,000 USD plus a year and this can go up to some $500,000 per year depending on the British Sterling Pound vs the United States Dollar in any given year. 

During the 2017 Standing Finance Committee meeting, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communications and Works Mr Anthony S. McMaster confirmed that to date ASSI is still carrying out the functions of the local civil aviation department.

Qualified people in the VI; Is ASSI a rip off?

It is import to note that there are many qualified people in the Virgin Islands (VI) who can do what ASSI is doing; however, the tax payers are required to foot the bill to the tune of over four hundred thousand dollars a year plus ($400, 000) for an agency without even office space in the Territory.

The United Kingdom appointed Governors over the years have backed this arrangement with ASSI and have done nothing to help change this situation. Many have labeled this situation a rip off and another form of colonialism.

One Legislator from the party that killed the Department, Hon Archibald C. Christian (AL), who is the Junior Minister for Tourism, said he would like to see the Civil Aviation Authority returned to the VI.

However, he did not provide to the SFC of the House of Assembly how this is to be done. Currently, Mr Andrew L. St Hilaire, who is also a pilot, holds the substantive post of Director of Civil Aviation. He is now operating as an Acting Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Communications and Works.

Background to how we got here!

It was in 2004 under a NDP Administration [2003-2007], some 13 years ago, that the VI lost its Civil Aviation Department and some say went backwards to the colonial days.

The same year, 2004, the then Civil Aviation Department had been approved by Government in the then Legislative Council to be turned into a Statutory Body, making the organisation a limited liability called the BVI Airports Authority. The objective of the new Authority was to own and operate all airports within the VI; the Taddy Bay Airport on Virgin Gorda, the Terrance B. Lettsome International on Beef Island and the Auguste George Airport on Anegada.

The following year, 2005, the Airport Act came into full effect, along with its regulations, having been passed late 2004 and giving way to the separation of the BVI Airports Authority Limited, which was incorporated on August 15, 2005 and a Department of Civil Aviation with regulatory duties.

This meant the Civil Aviation Department was to continue, but to be the agency to regulate the airports, and the aviation sector in general, focusing on safety and proper and updated legislation for the territory in keeping with international standards.

The public is still asking when this will happen and why ASSI is still in the VI some 13 years later making millions and millions of dollars with little or nothing to show.

30 Responses to “13 years later, Millions spent on ASSI, still no Civil Aviation Dept for VI”

  • apple pie (04/03/2017, 20:48) Like (7) Dislike (5) Reply
    no one cares about us
    • Ha! (05/03/2017, 09:19) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
      We can get away with employing less than competent persons in the civil service when the roles are entirely within the BVI - the fact that their performance is hopeless is obvious in the BVI but we are not held to account by anybody overseas. However, when there is an international role to the job, the incompetence becomes obvious beyond our shores - we seem to be much more worried about being ridiculed overseas than we are about being ridiculed in the BVI.
      • @Ha (05/03/2017, 10:23) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
        If we have a Premier who cannot speak grammatically correct English - we will be laughed at internationally but will pretend it is all ok at home.
  • chad (04/03/2017, 20:52) Like (5) Dislike (3) Reply
    Dealing with the British requires a steady hand and an ability to absorb complex relationships.
  • john d (04/03/2017, 20:53) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
    In this context, the ominous directive "divide and conquer" speaks volumes.
  • Lucy Lucy (04/03/2017, 20:55) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    What a mess that is.
  • Soldier Crab (04/03/2017, 21:08) Like (12) Dislike (3) Reply
    Bad blunder on both vip and ndp!
  • vi (04/03/2017, 21:10) Like (17) Dislike (8) Reply
    Thanks VINO for this needs to be strongly called out.

    • We need to fix that... (05/03/2017, 13:42) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
      THANK YOU MR. CHRISTIAN FOR CALLING IT OUT. HAD YOU NOT DONE SO IT WOULD NOT BE ON VINO NOW. I agree with you on this. We can do exactly what ASSI is doing and keep our money in our local economy. Suppose we had an office here buddy. We would pay through our nostrils. Now Mr. Christian we need you to do something about it...and please ensure that ALL locals are hired, starting with Mr. St. Hillaire.
      • @ we eed to fix that... (05/03/2017, 18:41) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
        This is straight out of the Glova Parks playbook to take the focus off of possible do nothing NDP after killing this government Department
  • andrew (04/03/2017, 21:55) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    the bucks still stops with the white house
  • Mr. Mason (04/03/2017, 21:56) Like (3) Dislike (6) Reply
    Until my friend Mr.A .L. St. Hilaire seek light to his desired ambition on, he will not be illuminated.

    For that and many other reasons our brothers continue to play the crab in a barrel challenge.

    Until then there will be no empowerment for many of them.
  • happy birthday lavity (04/03/2017, 23:03) Like (6) Dislike (4) Reply
    but the NDP messed up all that you left here... example this, farmers week and the college
  • tola (04/03/2017, 23:10) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
  • Bohannon (05/03/2017, 02:21) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    Why is Hilliare in another capacity? Railroading locals again. Why the man who was in immigration not the darn chief?
    • Expat (05/03/2017, 21:49) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
      Not a sole railroading locals but themselves. They can't stand to see another local prospering. It in dem blood and the beneficiaries are the expats all the way...yeppie yeppie yeppie..hip hip hooray!!!!
  • Political Observer (PO) (05/03/2017, 08:43) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Does the VI lack the aviation knowledge, skill and ability to lead and effectively manage a civil aviation department? Does the VI have more confidence in ASSI than in local talent? Is the VI getting more value for money from ASSI than it would from its own? Do Virgin Islanders still have that colonialist, imperialist bent, i.e., if it is not local it must be better, external folks are all knowing.....etc? Is self-hatred, crabish thinking, and slavish conditioning driving this false line of thinking? Is VI taxpayers a cash cow for ASSI-----$500K? Is ASSI milking the cow but giving back little if anything? Does ASSI have personnel, space .......etc in the VI? And if no why not? Will aviation responsibility be relinquish by the UK or VI people have to exert strong iniative to take it back? By the way, why does the VI needs two port authorities (sea and air)? Cannot a single port authority(agency) function as effectively? What is the Hon Christian's plan of action and milestone for bringing back the CAA?
    • questions (05/03/2017, 10:57) Like (6) Dislike (3) Reply
      Do we have too many political observers asking obvious and/or stupid questions with racial undertones?
      • @questions (05/03/2017, 11:14) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
        @questions, did your corn got mashed eh!
      • Reply (10/03/2017, 20:20) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        Once again, if you disagree with these NDP rats, not only are you wrong, you are a loser, you are corrupt, you are a wimp, (FILL IN INSULT HERE).
  • Lb (05/03/2017, 09:04) Like (11) Dislike (5) Reply
    The one thing that this report is missing, in order to be true and fair journalism, is how much would it cost the taxpayers to have a VI Civil Aviation Department? You were quick to point out that we send $400k to ASSI. Would a local Civil Aviation Department cost more? How much more?
  • Concerned (05/03/2017, 09:50) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    Yes, lb, it would, but that does not make the Government look good, was part of why they went the ASSI way, would not have allowed the Airlift with BVI planes to Miami to happen (U.S. FAA would not recognize it). This Government want control without transparency to fool the people and it is slowly causing the U.K. to take over. If the BVI really wants to be independent, then produce audits so people can see the mess that has been and have transparency for the same reason. Look @ approved budget, one item: Premier's office gets $1 million more than police budget!!!!
  • Hmm (05/03/2017, 13:16) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    All that has to happen is the Goverment has to say go and the thing will be set up. Don't be quick to judge folks there is more in the bucket than water.
  • ASSI (05/03/2017, 13:36) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    Cayman and Turks got their shit together very fast, ASSI is the minority since the got to know what they are about. Question will remain the same until govt get their head in one basket and kick them out.
  • Stella (05/03/2017, 18:35) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    We will now see if this governor uses his role appropriately or to have Dr. Smith and the NDP as the puppet arm of the FCO
  • @@@@@@@ (06/03/2017, 20:22) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    The ban of our local civil aviation dept makes no sense.
  • open wide (08/03/2017, 12:39) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Ladies and Gentlemen, we are about to find out if the people we elected to run OUR governments and protect OUR lives will use common sense on ASSI.

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