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NDP rejected local aviation investor for foreign, $7.2M down the drain

-direct flight from Miami to Beef Island was VI Airlink’s idea
Businessman, Kareem Nelson-Hull (left), and local businessman and co-owner of VI Airlink, Captain Neville C. Brathwaite Jr. (right) discussing the controversial BVI Airways that was said to commence direct flights Miami. Photo: Facebook
Co-owner of VI Airlink, Captain Neville C. Brathwaite Jr. expressed that his company approached the National Democratic Party (NDP) with the idea of commencing direct flights from Miami, Florida USA, to the Terrence B Lettsome International airport on Beef Island. Photo: Internet Source
Co-owner of VI Airlink, Captain Neville C. Brathwaite Jr. expressed that his company approached the National Democratic Party (NDP) with the idea of commencing direct flights from Miami, Florida USA, to the Terrence B Lettsome International airport on Beef Island. Photo: Internet Source
The National Democratic Party (NDP) invested $7.2 million of taxpayers money into BVI Airways which has yet to commence the agreed direct flights. Photo: VINO/File
The National Democratic Party (NDP) invested $7.2 million of taxpayers money into BVI Airways which has yet to commence the agreed direct flights. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - Many local and indigenous residents continue to claim that the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) of Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr the Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) does not treat local residents fairly.

They claimed that it’s the practice of the NDP since taking office (2011-current) to put out the red carpet for foreign investors and most often Caucasians and block or frustrate local residents.

One local businessman and co-owner of VI Airlink, Captain Neville C. Brathwaite Jr., told the public that in 2007 before the NDP left office his company approached them with an executive summary to purchase brand new aeroplanes to do direct flights from Miami, Florida USA, to the Terrence B. Lettsome International airport on Beef Island.

"They ignored us"- Neville C. Brathwaite Jr.

Mr Brathwaite said he even did a presentation to caucus, however, he noted that he had not "heard nothing back from them not even a phone call".

He was at the time speaking on the ZBVI 780 AM radio programme, Honestly Speaking with Claude O. Skelton-Cline, on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. Kareem Nelson-Hull was sitting in for the host who was absent due to the passing of his grandmother earlier yesterday.

In addition, Mr Brathwaite whose late father started many Virgin Islands (VI) registered airline companies said his family’s airline, VI Airlink was, in fact, the first to approach government about commencing direct flights between the VI and Miami, Florida.

But unfortunately, he heard nothing back from the current government "not even a telephone call" he stated on public radio. However, in 2016 he was surprised to learn that the said administration had given away $7.2 million to the controversial BVI Airways to commence flights to Miami.

The same BVI Airways pulled out of the Territory in 2014 claiming that they were bankrupt owing the BVI Airports Authority (BVIAP) some $100, 000.

$7.2 gone with the wind

"We really felt bad to watch what happen, the money needed to stay and circulate in our economic," the young businessman and pilot stated.

Additionally, VI Airlink’s cost was higher than what Government gave away to the foreign investors but Captain Brathwaite explained that the cost was $50 million because the aeroplanes were brand new and would have lasted for the next 25 years and were 70 seaters.

To date, BVI Airways have not flown and government and taxpayers will not be getting a dime back. Leader of the Opposition, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) has called for a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the BVI Airways saga.

28 Responses to “NDP rejected local aviation investor for foreign, $7.2M down the drain”

  • jail (18/04/2018, 12:53) Like (4) Dislike (2) Reply
    Who has our money?
  • Time (18/04/2018, 13:05) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply


  • GOVERNOR (18/04/2018, 15:32) Like (15) Dislike (3) Reply
    Please Governor get up and do your work and investigate this fraud by the ndp immediately.
  • youth man (18/04/2018, 15:34) Like (13) Dislike (1) Reply
    We get investigated and arrested by the police on suspicion but the NDP can go with our money in the millions and use it to get fat while the police never trouble them. No wonder the BVI streets are getting worse.
  • chad (18/04/2018, 15:36) Like (19) Dislike (4) Reply
    What is worse yet about this deal is that if Hon. Fahie didn't bring this to light to we the public then it would have been swept under the rug by the ndp, governor and police. What a country!
  • watching (18/04/2018, 15:37) Like (13) Dislike (2) Reply
    I am watching to see if the governor and police will investigate this matter rather than allowing the ndp to deal with it any further and be allowed to cover up the robbery.
  • Wow Barto (18/04/2018, 16:14) Like (8) Dislike (15) Reply
    After all the money them give you to charter elected officials immigrants back to them home land for big money for years and now you bawling for 7.2million go sit down with that u had your plane running and never once you did a us main land trip and your planes can make the run Miami but naw you begging for money daddy make moves and show them your class stop begging
    • Hmm (18/04/2018, 18:57) Like (3) Dislike (3) Reply
      He did not beg.. Did you even listen to the interview? He didn't even say the money should have been given to VI Airlink. He said it should have been invested locally. With a local business.
      • .Selassir (19/04/2018, 20:26) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
        I am begining to see this unfortunate situation in a different light. Extremely disappointed by the owners of Air Link but they are human and one should never be alarmed by the depths of human depravity when money is involved. May God have mercy on them. Dr Smith evidently is on a higher plane and I have much admiration for him.
  • grace (18/04/2018, 16:16) Like (8) Dislike (2) Reply
    Our government has shown how low they can possibly go. This is proposterous! WHat can they be thinking? They have led us down right into the Devils Pit. I have lost all respect for them and they have turned their backs on our own people who would have been up and running. Somebody has to step in and stop this madness.
    • Interesting.... (18/04/2018, 17:39) Like (8) Dislike (2) Reply
      Apples to Oranges?

      Timing - took proposal to NDP in 2007, the same year they were ousted.

      Cost - $50 Million- local or not, that’s a lot of Money!
      • @ interesting... (18/04/2018, 21:48) Like (1) Dislike (8) Reply
        so when its comes to locals its a lot but you can just give expats $7 m to run away with? you set of oppressors
        • ??? (19/04/2018, 18:59) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
          $7.4m to BVI Airways under a poorly constructed deal is bad.
          But $50m by government into new aircrafts whether local or not, would be just as bad.

          Govt does not run businesses well, so it should just stay out, period.
  • Julio Henry (18/04/2018, 16:49) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    The UK government and the NDP are in it together. Just read the latest letter from the UK to Dr Smith on the recovery plan.

    Go back and read what the last governor said " he saw no need for further investigation " into the cruise ship development project .

    Understand the delay the governor before did, the UK is in full support of the NDP, the same UK government that wanted to get rid of Ralph oneal
  • complain (18/04/2018, 17:00) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
  • E.Leonard (18/04/2018, 17:55) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    Often, many issues have at least three sides/versions. VI Airlink has stated its side. Though I have no reason to doubt VI Airlink, nonetheless, it would probably clear the air and bring some enlightenment to the issue if government share its version. Ideally, if locals have the demonstrated knowledge, skills, ability, experience, capital, capacity, capability……..etc to deliver the desired quantity and quality of desired goods or services, they should be given strong consideration for assistance, contract…….etc. Spending local has a multiplier effect in and on the economy.

    Moreover, providing non-stop service between Miami International Airport (MIA) and Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (EIS) is a challenging opportunity. The challenge is maintaining and sustaining passenger load factor (PLF)(Revenue Passenger Mile/Available Seat Mile; RPM/ASM), a critical airline economics metric. PLF, simply, is the loading of aircraft with paying customers. An aircraft needs a specific (minimum) number of paying customers on each flight to turn a profit. PLF varies among airlines, flights……etc. No airline will start or continue a route if a profitable PLF is not sustainable.

    At this juncture, non-stop flights between MIA and EIS can be a challenge without public subsidy. Thus far no major airline is racing with break neck speed to start a non-stop MIA-EIS flight; it may not be profitable without a subsidy.

    Furthermore, the question is should public funds be used to subsidize non-stop flights from Miami, Atlanta, London, NY, Toronto, Paris……..etc and Beef Island to make the territory a more competive tourist destination? Would direct flights between these cities and Beef Island be a more viable option? Should modernizing/subsidizing the ferry service between St. Thomas and Tortola/Virgin Gorda be strongly considered?
    • @E. Leonard (18/04/2018, 21:50) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Is there a difference between non-stop and direct flights? What is a typical functional PLF? Does the PLF apply to all legs of an aircraft?
      • E. Leonard (19/04/2018, 18:31) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
        @ E. Leonard, here are the responses to your questions:

        A. Non-stop vs Direct Flights: Non-stop is a flight from point A to point B, ie, Atlanta to St. Thomas; whereas, a direct flight has at least one stop on the way to final destination, ie, London to Bermuda to Antigua; direct flights maintain the same flight # throughout.

        B. Typical Functional PLF: There is no standard PLF; it varies among airlines, flights....etc. Airlines have high fix cost and needs paying passengers onboard to cover at least Break Even Load Factor(BPLF); PLF below BPLF means airline or flight is operating at a loss and above BPLF, profit. Per the International Air Transport Association (IATA) the mean PLF of airlines varies b/w 78-80%. Airlines operate at a PLF that is profitable.

        C. PLF Applicability to Both Legs: Yes.

        Airlines will not operate consistently below BPLF; if so they will cancel the route. PLF is a critical factor in all modes of transportation, ie, aircrafts, ferries, buses, trains......etc. Sometimes subsidies are needed to keep modes of transport operating.
        • RealPol (20/04/2018, 02:33) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
          $7.2M of taxpayers money was given to BVI Airways, a bruk, bankrupt and defunct airline that suspended operations in the VI owing BVIAA over $100K, to subsidize non-stop flight from Miami to Beef Island. To date, it has not transported a single paying passenger into the territory. And government seems to have no clue about BVI Airways or more importantly the people’s $7.2M.

          How can $7.2M just vanished without an uproar by taxpayers? We are talking about $7.2M, not $7K or $700. BVI taxpayers got shafted on this deal. All the people on this deal needs to be taken to task on this ludicrous and embarrassing deal. We are really self haters. If VI Airlink had highjacked the BVI taxpayers for $7.2M, all hell would have broken loose. But some external folks did it and our nonchalant attitude is baffling. The big question is how could government give away $7.2M on a project without the funding being authorized and appropriated by the HOA? The process needs to be revised to prevent this from happening in the future. Passing the budget should be the first step for funding major projects. Nonetheless, there must be some accountability for the missing $7.2M.
  • Truth (18/04/2018, 21:49) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    NDP hate locals
  • Bite and blow (19/04/2018, 06:41) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    I guess the NDP argument was $7.2M is cheaper than $50M. So in a strange twist VI Airlink may have helped the BVI Airways case. This will still be the end of the NDP. Sometimes you have to look beyond what you see.
  • No Vision just greed (19/04/2018, 06:47) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    You've said it!! Why do we need this BVI to MIA flight when.there are and have been many more important things to do like improve our territory`s infrastructure, health care, education system, etc. I've never understand why our government always seem to put the cart before the horse but then I realize that it's because that's where the cookie jar is so it's easier to get to. Our beautiful BVI is suffering and yet instead of taking responsibility for the mess theyve made our government continues to try to hide and downplay truths. No vision whatsoever just greed for more and more personal gain is what our government is about...the curruption is appalling.
  • DON Q (19/04/2018, 08:42) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    All over the world airlines are subsidised
  • Rosita (19/04/2018, 10:50) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    I look at despicable scenarios such as this and give thanks that my grown offsprings to date are creatures of Kindness with hearts of gratitude. Money or no mpney, their humamity is intact and I did my job.
    How do you deliberately destroy a person or in this case, an entity that has subsidized your efforts and garnered your success just because you have deemed your self to be entitled.
    Something is out there that is greater than all of us and it gives just rewards and you can count on it.

    • Tourre (19/04/2018, 15:22) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      Too often, these welfare recipients make the rest of us look bad.
  • hillbilly (19/04/2018, 20:37) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Some welfare recpients have a way of making us all look bad. Take my word most of us are humble and grateful and give back.No way would we stoop to such level as bankrupting our donor because we feel entitled . A pox on such folk.
  • wize up (23/04/2018, 12:41) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I am not one who love talk because talk is cheap and I was informed it takes money to buy lands: how many have realize that we be taiking over and over on the same issues and nothing favourable come out of these talk: the geography of this country and the size of the population tells me most of my we being hearing the takin but at the end the day no once is taken into custody for question on these matters but we just keep on the talk( Shane old &!t just a different day)

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