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BVI Airways Rep bars local reporter from public event

- After tax payers bailout the defunct airline with $7M they are now into censorship
BVI Beacon Reporter Ken E. Silva, left, was reportedly barred from attending an Open House by BVI Airways today April 12, 2017 by Ms Sachkia Barnes, right, a Public Relations Consultant. Photo: Facebook
The BVI Beacon has been undertaking investigative reporting into the background of some of the owners, shareholders, and directors of BVI Airways. Photo: BVI Beacon/BVI Airways
The BVI Beacon has been undertaking investigative reporting into the background of some of the owners, shareholders, and directors of BVI Airways. Photo: BVI Beacon/BVI Airways
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- It seems like the bailout airline that got some $7M from the public purse, along with an employee who does public relations for the firm, is practicing what the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) is known for; censorship of media houses they do not like.

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.

45 Responses to “BVI Airways Rep bars local reporter from public event”

  • SMH (12/04/2017, 22:46) Like (65) Dislike (3) Reply
    Sick of these people....dont they understand public funds mean that we the public have a right to know how our tax dollars are being spent
  • cat (12/04/2017, 22:51) Like (31) Dislike (1) Reply
    SMH that what we got for our $7 Million
  • birds of a feather (12/04/2017, 22:59) Like (36) Dislike (2) Reply

    Trained to hate and censor by we know who!!!

  • Only in the BVI (12/04/2017, 23:04) Like (28) Dislike (1) Reply

    she must have something to hide, ##$&* could not get away with that behavior in Guyana

  • jack (12/04/2017, 23:05) Like (22) Dislike (0) Reply
    press freedom I dare say in big trouble can't wait for the next election to get rid of that crew
  • dog (12/04/2017, 23:09) Like (33) Dislike (1) Reply
    the media in the BVI is weak and divided. If that was in the USA, Jamaican or even the UK other journalists would have stood in solidarity with a colleague and refuse to cover the event!!!

    I am just sick to my stomach of these people who came on the banana boat and feel they could push around every body
  • hah (12/04/2017, 23:12) Like (60) Dislike (0) Reply
    If somebody told Ms Barnes that she was not invited or welcomed to the BVI she would cry foul. She need to be humble and sit down.
  • wow (12/04/2017, 23:14) Like (17) Dislike (4) Reply
    that's a Donald trump move boss Ms. Christopher has stepped on her own story with this crap
  • please (12/04/2017, 23:56) Like (10) Dislike (49) Reply
    Can you please stop complaining, the money has got to the aid of purchasing two aircraft. One will be flying later today for the country national athletics team. It's enough progress to show where the money was spent. Stop trying to tarnish a soon to be BVI brand. We all know you will be bragging about it really soon. Please think before you type, baseless claims or do some research. Jerry Willoughby was a Delta Airlines captain, and he had bought the company from Luke Smith before Luke ran it to the ground, never paid fees and other issues. Luke now flies for Sir Necker Jet. The airline is still here, trying to make it better for all of us, so sometimes it's not easy to make an investment that had loopholes or it does not satisfy our taste... that doesn't mean it won't work.
    • @ please (13/04/2017, 10:08) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply
    • flying in fog (13/04/2017, 13:55) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
      so why the lack of transparency, public information, banning media houses and general lack of information despite being 6 months beyond the scheduled date for commencement of flights?
  • wize up (13/04/2017, 06:11) Like (19) Dislike (1) Reply
    insider trading; that female is the current mouth piece for the education leader: the former guy involved with tourist board is responsible for the development of that carrier....I love it when a plan comes together
  • SMH 2 (13/04/2017, 06:24) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply

    The government know how to FAIL. I would have kept she over the set that they have wasting time. 

  • Fineprint (13/04/2017, 06:42) Like (19) Dislike (6) Reply
    Emphasis point "Guyanese National"Read between the lines people. Two messages in one story.
  • Jaigon Jumbi (13/04/2017, 06:58) Like (27) Dislike (0) Reply
    Well after rake in hundreds of thousands to write speeches and still doing PR for BVI Airways, what do you expect. These people who got rich overnight off tax payers dollars suddenly became high and mighty. What ah BVI!
    • island people (13/04/2017, 12:02) Like (7) Dislike (5) Reply
      Yes, we run things now. Its about time BVIslanders go sit down. We got the top jobs in every area. Like you all would say, "ayo ain't in nothing".
  • my girl (13/04/2017, 08:19) Like (12) Dislike (36) Reply

    Leave saski. She doing her job and followinh instructions obviously. Myron pet yes but the girl have to eat to. Wa she really k ow about GT or wherever her people from. She grew up right freaking here. We all know the government sucks and are really dirty business men obviously. Myron trying to build his empire, slick rick just want to be rich. I donrt think he really like is commoners, .Doc just trying to save face and show he is a leard contrary to popular belief. Ronnie really the only upstanding one suprisingly without Claude of course. Archie dead. Mitch fighting an up hill battle leaving the bay from eidher side. Delores sleeping bag lady cooking as its carnival in stt. All of them jokey to the f...i*g bone. Ah done!!!!!

    • Really (13/04/2017, 15:32) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
      Ha! Ms Saski probably grew up right freaking here yes because in Guyana she could not have gotten away with that freaking behaviour.
  • Lb (13/04/2017, 08:26) Like (6) Dislike (20) Reply
    Boohoo! Poor media. Next
  • See (13/04/2017, 08:37) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
    wait until you see the fares .... that will be the real truth
    • Who cares! (13/04/2017, 09:52) Like (4) Dislike (3) Reply

      Cape Air and SeaBorne fares are through the roof right now, but can you get a seat? NO! There are always people seeking convenience over cheap sh*t. Going to st thomas is a £$%&* nightmare so it will be worth spending a bit more leaving from home.

  • Diehard Sachkia Fan (13/04/2017, 09:53) Like (6) Dislike (20) Reply
    What BVI Airways did was wrong. But you don't get to stomp on Ms. Barnes cause her client drinking from the crazy kool-aid bottle. If you love Ken so much you and all these other news sites should have refused to go in the plane or give BVI Airways any press. In the future I hope all the media stand up and refuse that kind of treatment. Other than that I totally agree with you that BVI Airways and dem $7 million handout is outta place.
  • Wendy (13/04/2017, 11:24) Like (1) Dislike (5) Reply
    Well boo boo.. !
  • I Witness (13/04/2017, 11:39) Like (2) Dislike (3) Reply
    yeah it sounds a bit fishy, but sometimes the local media turn a deaf ear when given pertinent info about something
    serious. sometimes the 'censorship' has come from some media outlets in the bvi. silva is a good man as is others
    at vino but they have at times slammed the door and refused to do any investigative journalism about bank behaviour
    that is not good for the bvi. just saying.
  • Hmm (13/04/2017, 11:46) Like (14) Dislike (2) Reply
    How did a new company BVI airways find Barnes who is on contract with the ndp minister of education to be their PR person? Something smells. No wonder the bully minister is defending BVI Airways with such passion. The way to his heart is through his pocket.
  • Black Girl Power (13/04/2017, 11:50) Like (2) Dislike (12) Reply

     BVI AIRWAYS have a right to BLACKLIST any media house as they please. Wonder why you haven't covered the event either?

  • bayboy (13/04/2017, 12:49) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    Politicians taking our tax payers money investing in business for their personal profits and dont want anyone to investigate because they are also shearholders. WICKED !!!!!!!!
  • where de money (13/04/2017, 14:05) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    Bald head bully minister, the wife that wears the pants & the former tourist board durector. Rich & switch!
    • wize up (14/04/2017, 07:23) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      @ where the money: you have just listed the investment team however the start up capital is the people of this territory tax money while those charters mentioned in your blog will be smiling all the was to the bank
  • Scary Mary (13/04/2017, 14:31) Like (17) Dislike (1) Reply
    Censorship and exclusionary practices directed towards the press by governments and/or companies associated with Governments is a direct attack on democracy itself!

    I am sick to death of so-called "free countries" putting dictatorial and arrogant constraints on the press. In my opinion, freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of the press are sacrosanct and inviolable.

    Having read of this nonsense, I vow here and now that I will NOT in any way, shape or form support BVI Airways, nor will I recommend their services to any of our overseas clients, until such time as a public apology has been issued and the company promises NEVER to violate the Freedom of the press again.

    To allow the press to be disinvited at the last possible second, in such an offhanded manner and without explanation, signals our government (and their business partners) that we are OK with violations against our freedoms and our democracy. I for one will not let this go unnoticed and intend to actively advise people against using BVI Airlines at every opportunity.

    I am fed up and disgusted. Enough is enough!
    • LMAOO (13/04/2017, 16:46) Like (2) Dislike (12) Reply

      Scary Mary, who will miss you? You won't support BVI Airways, OH MY, what horror! You read one news report and believe everything it says just like that? You people here are so naive and stupid!! You don't even know what happened and you are already taking sides, typical BVI bullsh*t.

  • 1234 (13/04/2017, 17:18) Like (8) Dislike (2) Reply
    scakia should have stayed on bvi airways straight to guyana
  • just asking... (13/04/2017, 20:58) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Is she still deloris daughter in law?
  • GMC (14/04/2017, 09:11) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    What is happening in our country. Let us talk. Do we realize how we look on the international market? It is not the media that is causing issues, it is the lack of transparency. Just tell the people of the country the truth. Some will oppose but decisions must be made for the greater good of the people; that is your duty as a Goverment. This goes for both VIP and NDP as both can't say that they are without sin. It is truth that sets us free. NDP don't fall back into the trap of forgetting the cry of the people. Say what they want you guys have move the country forward . Please let it move forward with us the people.
  • voiceofthevoiceless (14/04/2017, 14:54) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    Imagine that after months of controversy and delays, a moment that was designed to promote the BVI Airways brand in a good positive light has been ruined by vindictive, simplistic behavior. You would think they would want every bit of good free press they can get but apparently not. The situation stemmed from the Beacon Journalist doing his job and investigating the people behind BVI Airways. A search of his Linkedin profile revealed that the BVI Airways CEO Willoughby was once director of flight operations and a Shareholder of Baltia Airways an airline founded since 1989 that has yet to launch its first flight some 27 years later. Ms. Barnes in an interview by the same Beacon Journalist denied those claims and said that he was a paid consultant for Baltia. Lo and behold the next day his Linkedin profile was made private. Sneaky stuff. What does he have to hide? What is the story behind Baltia? Is BVI Airways another Baltia?

    BVI Journalists need to unite against any attempts to infringe on freedom of the process as protected by the constitution. This is a government funded airline and the tax paying people of the BVI need to know where and how their money is being spent. They should have all walked out in solidarity against this infringement on the press freedom so they missed a moment too. Ms. Barnes sent out the invite the day before but probably was instructed by her employers to disinvite the reporter. What a mess of something that could have been so positive.
  • staff (15/04/2017, 21:10) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    My only thought is HOW long will it take the governor to look into conflict of interests?

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