BVI Airways Rep bars local reporter from public event
Ms Sachkia Barnes, a Guyanese national living and working in the Virgin Islands for years, sent out an invitation yesterday April 11, 2017 inviting the public and selective media houses to an 'open house' today April 12, 2017 for the government funded BVI Airways, which has come under fire as the public is not clear when they will ever fly.
Barred reporter speaks
Speaking exclusively to our newsroom, reporter Kenneth E. Silva of the BVI Beacon, which was one of the handpicked news media to be invited, said when he showed up today at the function at the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport he was denied access.
Mr Sliva confirmed that "the Beacon received an invitation to the open house last night, but I was turned away when I arrived at the airport."
It is our understanding that he was told by Ms Barnes, who also worked as a speech writer for controversial Minister for Education and Culture Hon Myron V. Walwyn (AL), that "the invitation was not extended to the Beacon."
It is unclear why the Beacon was censored or if Ms Barnes was instructed to only invite media houses who have given BVI Airways and the controversial $7M bailout deal coverage they like.
Ms Barnes was a few years ago hired as a Government Information Officer but had her tenure in that post not renewed.
It is also our understating that Ms Barnes told Mr Silva "the challenge we’re having with the press is that we can no longer have an open dialogue and try to provide context for individuals.”
It is unclear what she meant by this as she could not be reached up to press time.
Investigating BVI Airways & Directors
The BVI Beacon, like our newsroom, has been undertaking investigative reporting into the background of some of the owners, shareholders, and directors of BVI Airways.
The BVI Beacon reported in a March 16, 2017 article that three BVI Airways officials, CEO Jerry Willoughby, Executive Vice President Pauline Jones, and Safety Director Joseph Pampalone, all had previously worked with a New York-based corporation called Baltia Airlines, which has never operated a commercial flight or generated revenue despite being in existence since 1989, according to a United States Securities and Exchange Commission filing from March 2016 and other documents they unearthed.
Leader of the Opposition Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) will also be asking Premier Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) more questions on the controversial airline deal next week when Parliament meets on April 18, 2017.
The public was given three flight dates last year by Premier Smith; that of October 30, November 30 and the end of December 2016 with not one coming to pass.
When BVI Airways pulled out of the Virgin Islands in 2014 claiming that it was bankrupt, it owed the BVI Airports Authority some $100,000 in fees.