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Slide in British Pound highlights urgent need for airlift - Premier Smith

February 20th, 2017 | Tags: airlift D. Orlando Smith BVI Airways British Pound
With the slide in the British Pound predicted to reach parity with the US Dollar, Premier Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith (right) said this is another reason why the Virgin Islands needs to urgently improve its airlift capacity. Photo: VINO/Internet Source
It is still unclear when BVI Airways will begin flights between Miami, USA to Beef Island, Virgin Islands. Photo: Team of Reporters
It is still unclear when BVI Airways will begin flights between Miami, USA to Beef Island, Virgin Islands. Photo: Team of Reporters
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - ‎Premier Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) has made another attempt at justifying his National Democratic Party’s controversial decision to pump $7M into a defunct BVI Airways.

The decision was made with strong criticisms, with some of the main arguments being that Government should have invested instead into the ferry services between the Virgin Islands (VI) and US Virgin Islands (USVI) and that it was not prudent to invest in an airline that had suddenly pulled out of the territory and still owed the BVI Airports Authority (BVIAA).

Further, critics of the NDP administration frowned at the fact that if BVI Airways failed to get off the ground the VI Government would not get back a dime of what was invested.

The NDP Government nevertheless continues to maintain that their investment in BVI Airways for direct flights between Miami, USA and Terrance B. Lettsome Airport on Beef Island was necessary and a “game changer” for the Virgin Islands.

Urgent need to improve airlift

"Some analysts forecast the [British] Pound will reach parity with the [US] Dollar by the end of the year. This is another reason why we need to urgently improve our airlift capacity so we do not continue to fall behind in the UK and European Tourism Markets," Premier Smith told reporters at a press conference on February 16, 2017 in the Conference Room, Office of the Premier.

In January, fears of the consequences of a hard Brexit sent the pound to a fresh 31-year-low against the dollar, excluding last October’s flash crash, according to Independent UK.

Meanwhile, Premier Smith said at the Brexit talks he took the opportunity to highlight challenges posed to the UK tourism business by the significant drop in the value of the Pound which has made the VI destination less competitive compared to various other jurisdictions geographically closer to Europe.

Further, as it relates to BVI airways beginning its direct flights, Premier Smith told reporters that the company has made a number of headways towards certain certification for flight worthiness and is awaiting another leg of certification from the USA before it can get off the ground.

21 Responses to “Slide in British Pound highlights urgent need for airlift - Premier Smith”

  • just asking.. (20/02/2017, 19:51) Like (17) Dislike (1) Reply
    who eating out of the 7 M?
    • Xxx (20/02/2017, 20:01) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
      One needs to see serious examination of the realities that are the obstacles to such an alliance after BVI airways was here already went bankrupt and now back on the public table
      • wize up (20/02/2017, 20:41) Like (19) Dislike (0) Reply
        @ Xxx: I happen to own a few companies should I miss payment the social security and inland revenue is prepared to take me to the court house: here we have a company left this territory owing the people of the BVI(99,000.00) the government brings this company back to the territory and hands this company 10 million of the tax payers money: someone needs to be sent off to jail over this transaction; there is double standard in this place(you and I must pay NHI) however the China company coming to build our airport project gets away from NHI(what a world)
    • wize up (20/02/2017, 20:28) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
      @ just asking: call Harrigan and then ask him(not a bad question)...
  • My Take (20/02/2017, 19:56) Like (16) Dislike (0) Reply
    It would be illuminating to determine exactly who brought Dr. Smith and BVI airways together.
    • @ my take (20/02/2017, 20:29) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
      hope its just not for personal gains.
      • yes (21/02/2017, 10:27) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
        Yes it is for there personal gains . That is the plane that will transport the seafood it is only a matter of time before you all will see what this government are doing. This government is worst than the RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT. I did not expect the ///// to act in this manner for the way he were brought up his parent is turning over in their grave to see // he has leave people lead him astray. Let pray that we get good people to take them out.
  • Premier's Wishlist (20/02/2017, 21:04) Like (24) Dislike (0) Reply
    I don't see what's the rush or agree with the Premier to base his decision on the pound. If the value of the pound declining I see more American tourists visiting Europe instead of the Caribbean in the near future as its now affordable. A U.K. hotel that costs 300 per night has been decreased significantly by as much as 30%. Once in Europe there's much to do and see and can go country hopping. If the BVI is banking on American arrivals there's also Cuba that changed their travel rules and other competitive Caribbean countries.

    The decrease in the pound also will slow down economic growth in the U.K. which persons might migrate for work in other places but I don't think plenty will be coming to the BVI because the BVI has its own problems with the main pillar declining and instability of the government. I don't think the BVI can realistically declare that stable anymore or jumping up and down about persons coming here. Migration often occurs because of fear and better opportunity. Increase taxes in the BVI and permit fees are also unattractive. There's much to fear. The Premier's statement is nothing but a wishlist but let's hope I'm wrong.
  • Concerned (21/02/2017, 06:33) Like (15) Dislike (0) Reply
    "premiers wishlist" has it right. The falling pound will induce more people to go to U.K., not here. Those with U.K. Pound (including me) are taking the hit in the wallet. They will not want to travel as much. The Premier will use any excuse he can to justify his 'goof's'. His schemes (Pier Park, Airport, Airline etc.) are just as bad or worse than the 'Vagina' traffic circle at the airport and lights at the round about, that Fraser did. Why are our elected leaders so stupid? Is fame and money that attractive that they canot be honest and use common sense?
  • Jack B Nimble... Have a better plan for he $7 mil. (21/02/2017, 07:18) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    I'm a true believer in the fact that if you use that 7 million to recreate music to all our festivals better and bigger we get more return... Also here is an idea . " A swimming competition " called "Swim for a thousand" You have a beach swimming competition of ten races. A $1000.00 purse will be at the winning point the first person to get there collect it. Like I say 10 races of ten different age group... Then you top it off with a super star race with the top ten time. Those ten that did the best time will be in this race. Same process who gets their first collect the $1000.00 purse... At the ceremony everyone get a $100.00 for participation.... This idea is a trend setting idea that can grow into some huge and international an evet to attract tourist... An event fill with fun.
    • cool (21/02/2017, 10:33) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Really cool idea. It will also attract hundreds from overseas. Let's swim from one end of Cane Garden Bay to the other.
  • voiceofthevoiceless (21/02/2017, 09:15) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    They told us that the cruise lines will no longer come to the BVI if we did not expand the dock and clean up tent city. The situation was urgent so it needed to be addressed immediately and that brought us the Pier Park which went over 30 million and is still incomplete. As a result of them awarding the preferential birthing rights to Norwegian and Disney we lost the two biggest cruise companies in Royal Caribbean and Carnival.

    Now the Premier's rationale for pumping 7 million dollars to resuscitate BVI Airways to run flights direct to the mainland is that the 'pound is falling' is another attempt to justify the urgency of a questionable deal. However, I fail to understand the connection? You mean by having this flight the UK tourists will be able to get here via Miami at a cheaper price and more convenient time? Really? I don't see that happening. First of all if EIS-MIA-EIS is $ 700-$800 and London- Miami another $300-$400 is it not best to come via Antigua which is about the same price and less hassle with no US immigration? Secondly, would they not just stay closer to home rather than travel?

    I would think the target clientele for BVI Airways is the US market where we need to redouble our efforts on that market to compensate for the expected drop in UK passenger arrivals? What about saying that we need to diversify our tourism marketing to other European countries, perhaps Brazil and Asia? What about improving our air/sea connections to various regional hubs like St. Thomas/Antigua/St. Maarten and Puerto Rico?

    I wish them the best with this BVI Airways initiative but don't take the people for fools with this baseless justification.
  • Diaspora (21/02/2017, 09:54) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Is the Premier saying in an inartful way that the sliding Pound means it costs Brits more to go on foreign vacations, pay more for imports.........etc.? And that the higher rate for air travel will mean that a larger number of Brits will stay home, travelling less to tropical destinations, e.g., VI? What % of tourists arrival are Brits? What is the projected decrease due to the slide in the Pound?

    Is Doc trying to make the case that with the slide of the Pound and the commensurate reduction in Brits visits that government needs to increase the arrival of Americans, Canadians, Chinese.......etc and that BVI Airways getting and staying airborne is the transportation mode to attract more visitors? Will Miami become the hub for flying into the BVI? What is the flight schedule for BVI Airways? What is the cost to fly from Miami to TBL? How does cost compare with flying into St. Thomas and taking the ferry over to the VI? Are the airline economics numbers put BVI Airways on a competitive position with St. Thomas and ferry?
  • Laura (21/02/2017, 09:56) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Everyone knows that when the pound drops that the only winners are foreign tourists who enjoy the ride of better rates, and local citizens feel the heat at the pumps and trying to travel abroad. Currencies move in strange ways. There is never a smooth path up or down and there is no certainty that the pound will not keep falling due to the uncertainty of where of how Brexit will unfold.

    The BVI presents the UK with far more opportunities culturally, commercially and environmentally than is currently realised but with this present government at the helm, I fear that an economic partnership will not be a win-win for all parties involved. Holding a post of co-chair of the OCT/EU FS PWP is not enough. Thinking outside the box should have been on the roundtable before the vote was cast for Brexit. The BVI is too reactionary and less preparatory, and at the end of the day are all these discussions with the UK really keeping in mind the rights of the people of the BVI or the pockets of the elite in the BVI. Wake up BVI, this Government has been more reckless than any economic move including Brexit so do not swallow everything these so-called politicians ask of you to eat, question everything and take for granted nothing.

  • Neil (21/02/2017, 10:02) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    The more the Premier talks the more you realize he should have taken a crash course in Finance and economics. Even if the BVI focus on the US market the reality is that the US market now has favorable choices with the drop in pound value. This man knows nothing nothing whatsoever of what he talking bout. Its like we give a pen to a little waggle tail kid to sign every contractual agreement he could find. Yah yah yah let me sign it.
  • The Pilot (21/02/2017, 10:49) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Like Trump, Dr. Smith probably does not believe in climate change and he thinks that the media and members of the public are his enemies. Dr. Smith WAKE-UP and smell the coffee. Learn not from your own mistakes but from the mistakes of others. A quick trip down the islands including St. Lucia and St. Vincent will reveal much. We are nearing the end of our tourist season. Is this the time to establish a jet service between the BVI and Miami? Such a service failed a few years ago for the same reason.
    The darn problem is, remove him and who will you replace him with, tall boy or Pickering? This is a perfect example of damn if you do and damn if you don't. Huston we have a problem.
  • Dr Dre (21/02/2017, 12:53) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    It's astonishing that this is the minister of finance speaking this economically illiterate and illogical nonsense.

    Brits don't travel here via Miami in general, they don't form the bulk of the tourists here, tourism doesn't form the main pillar of the economy, BVI Airways is not going to make a big difference to overall numbers and is going to be $$$$$ when compared to flying from St Thomas (see airport taxes etc).

    Govt would be better off sorting out any of (i) the ferries - get a reliable ferry route, get a proper transit to STT, do a deal to allow BVI immigration and customs to be cleared in St Thomas and vice versa (ii) the flights to SJU (lower taxes to enable prices to come down) (iii) flights to ANU and Barbados and (iv) the generally anti-competitive environment which the BVI is, where everyone needs a local partner and needs to make payments to someone to be able to facilitate things.
  • True (21/02/2017, 13:11) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Dear Premier and everyone else who missed the headline, the BVI uses the USD$$$ we are not linked to the GBP Sterling so why use that as an excuse to give away $7million to a company that ripped off the taxpayers before and not invest in Ferries or even a local carrier VI Airlink?

  • concern (21/02/2017, 23:48) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    The premier knows he was wrong to invest in a defunct airline with taxpayers money. Why did he not make a personal investment? With so much left undone in the territory for the lack of money, the borrowing and yet such a dumb move was made. I only hope it gets off the ground and that money is retrieved. Look at the executive orders in the US and tell the people what help flying in and out of Miami will render revenue for this territory.
  • Makes one wonder (22/02/2017, 11:26) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Where has it worked where governments running private businesses has ever been successful (unless we're referring to Communism/Dictatorships)? Hasn't these fools (we call our government) not learned anything from history? Then again, perhaps, they are not fools and knows exactly what they are doing. . .
  • Really (23/02/2017, 01:59) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Why is $7m directed at an airline situation when there are problems with hospital on funding and payroll issues; education with funding/ supplies/ payroll etc that needs the money... the Gov't clearly doesn't know how to prioritize

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