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Surprising faces involved in BVI Airways; Plane leased for Haiti, Cuba route

Ryan R. E. Geluk (left) and Lester S. Hyman (right) are two of the new names surfacing as being directors of BVI Airways. Photo: Internet Source
Opposition Leader Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1), left, continues to squeeze out information on the BVI Airways deal from the secretive National Democratic Party of Premier Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith (AL), right. Photo: VINO/File
Opposition Leader Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1), left, continues to squeeze out information on the BVI Airways deal from the secretive National Democratic Party of Premier Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith (AL), right. Photo: VINO/File
According to media reports, one of the two BVI Airways airplanes acquired with tax payers’ monies for BVI Airways started making flights between Haiti and Cuba last month. Photo: File
According to media reports, one of the two BVI Airways airplanes acquired with tax payers’ monies for BVI Airways started making flights between Haiti and Cuba last month. Photo: File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- The saga and controversy surrounding BVI Airways continue as more and more information continues to drip out like a spy novel.

Last week more information was unearthed.

The airline which pulled out of the Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island, the main airport serving the Virgin Islands (VI) in 2014 claiming that it was bankrupt while owing the BVI Airports Authority over $100,000, is back thanks to tax payers.

Haitian company leasing planes

It was last year that the Dr D. Orlando Smith led-National Democratic Party (NDP) Administration pumped some $7.2 Million United States Dollars into the airline in exchange for direct flights from Miami, Florida, USA to Beef Island. The airline has gotten all the money upfront although Premier Smith, who is also the Minister of Finance, told the public the tax payers funds will be distributed to BVI Airways over three years’ time. BVI Airways got their cash payout within six months.

Now comes word that a Haitian airline is leasing BVI Airways planes. According to media reports, one of the two airplanes acquired with tax payers’ monies for BVI Airways started making flights between Haiti and Cuba last month. The arrangements of the lease agreement have not been made public by the VI Government; however, information shows that the plane was being used for flights between Port-au-Prince, Havana, Camaguey and Santiago de Cuba since April 27, 2017.

The BVI Airways plane is leased by the Haiti-based Sunrise Airways.

Some faces behind BVI Airways

Meanwhile, the government has released some of the names of the officials of BVI Airways, but many have been calling our reporters to allege that the names of two other locals with interests have not been released. However, our newsroom has not been able to confirm the information of the other two persons in question.

Responding to questions in the House of Assembly on Thursday, May 11, 2017 Premier and Finance Minister Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) said the directors of the subsidised airline are Jerry D. Willoughby, Scott A. Wiseman, Bruce Bradley, Pauline E. Jones; Lester S. Hyman, Robert Cisella and Ryan R. E. Geluk.

It is also important to note that VI tax payers have no ownership in the airline after Government told the public last year that the $7M of tax payers’ money pumped into the failed airline was an investment.

Now Dr Smith has changed his position, now saying the tax payers interest is only via a subsidy, meaning if the airline never flies the tax payers will never get a dime back. This information was made public following Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1), the Opposition Leader, questioning the Premier to provide the government’s percentage stake in BVI Airways. However, Premier Smith, to the surprise of many, confirmed there is no percentage stake, because the current agreement between government and BVI Airways is to provide a subsidy.

In addition, the cost of what government has to pay with the $7Million is increasing. It was learnt that a study was conducted by a U.S company on behalf of BVI Airlines; however; it was revealed that the government of the VI shared the cost.

According to Dr Smith’s answer to the Opposition Leader’s question on May 11, 2017, it was Sixel Consulting Group who conducted the study for $22,000. However, tax payers are not to know what is in the study. Premier Smith said that due to the commercial nature of the report, it would be prejudicial to provide a copy of the document at this time, which was done to advice on viability.

Hon Fahie then noted that if they did the study to demonstrate their capacity, why government needed to share the cost.

It was also unearthed last month that an account had to be opened for BVI Airways to facilitate government’s $7M, costing some $207,000 more. Dr Smith claimed that he shared the cost with BVI Airways.

Thus far the government has doled out over $7.3 Million dollars on the BVI Airways project; however, the plane is yet to fly the proposed Miami–Beef Island route.

52 Responses to “Surprising faces involved in BVI Airways; Plane leased for Haiti, Cuba route”

  • Hurry come new governor (15/05/2017, 19:01) Like (29) Dislike (3) Reply
    $7.3million and no one is in jail
    • explain (15/05/2017, 19:36) Like (3) Dislike (11) Reply
      Please explain to me why someone should be in jail.
      • Special-Interests (15/05/2017, 21:02) Like (26) Dislike (3) Reply
        Profiting on taxpayers' dimes. Nuff said.
        • explain (16/05/2017, 06:18) Like (13) Dislike (11) Reply
          Would we rather see the plane sit at beef island all day collecting dust and burning capital on fixed cost? I would prefer the plane fly make some money and reduce the the likelihood or the amount that we may have to put in later. This may sound silly but I would rather the company make money untill they get the final approvals to the us, heck flying around in Cuba with a logo that says gobvi might even bring us a few extra tourists. The issue is the transparency of the scenario, they take too long to explain what they are doing or what are the new developments they allow john public to speculate too much. The government need to understand that people are much informed than before and the strategy needs to be ravamped to reflect such.

          I want the plane to fly badly, I want the people to own shares in the company badly because I can really see the potential in the venture, interview any tourist and they would tell you not to extend the runway but they want to come direct, I think it is a great compromise.
          • Special-Interests (16/05/2017, 09:08) Like (13) Dislike (4) Reply
            What starts wrong, will end wrong. Do the right things by us and the rewards will spread wide and far. Create illusions of progress for special-interests while leaving us behind and the youths will eventually see right through the veil of deceptions, and ask in their own ways (reflected good or bad within our present reality)- What about us? Can you provide this mass/intervention of capital (besides the crumbs from the table) into our ideas as well. Aren't we worthy?
            • Wow! (16/05/2017, 10:29) Like (14) Dislike (6) Reply

              That’s deep my youth! Jail our youths while the big fish continue to feed off the lil man and woman, and we see nothing wrong with this flawed system. Trickle-down economics that never reach to the bottom. Pure Trickery! Trick-a-treat! Corruption in high places being rewarded once again.
          • Kil (16/05/2017, 12:30) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
            Lol You really need to go check out what is going on. Because "Go BVI" is nowhere on that aircraft.
        • dog (17/05/2017, 22:10) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
          we pay for it while others benefit and profit. Bunch of crooks.
      • @ explain (16/05/2017, 10:16) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
        You need to stop...some of us did not eat our school fees
    • Reply (15/05/2017, 19:56) Like (9) Dislike (2) Reply
      I agree with comment by "hurry come new governor" on this
  • wize up (15/05/2017, 19:34) Like (17) Dislike (0) Reply
    Shameful, absolutely shameful!!! White collar criminals; Mask Men; Gun Men and Killers walking free all over this territory( law enforcement!!!!)
  • JACK BE STILL (15/05/2017, 19:39) Like (17) Dislike (1) Reply
    wow Lester Hyman things that make you want to go hummmmmm
  • Okay now (15/05/2017, 19:42) Like (13) Dislike (0) Reply
    Makes one wonder what is really going on here with this whole deal
  • just wrong (15/05/2017, 20:00) Like (22) Dislike (1) Reply
    We need a Director of Corruption Prosecution (DCP) separate and apart from the DPP or the Governor. My sense is that the BVI people are frustrated with the office of the DPP and lack of action by the Governor when it comes to fighting corruption and white collar crime. With the creation and powers of the DCP it will allow the office of the DPP to focus on other crimes plaguing the BVI.

    If you are going to take corruption seriously there needs to be an office with that focus in mind. This will go a long way in showing our the people and the international community that we are serious about fighting CORRUPTION.
  • Sawda (15/05/2017, 20:17) Like (12) Dislike (1) Reply
    Premier must go that's why the rest of the cabinet ain't no better ,we give $ to build Cuba economy and we at a stand still.This one is way below the belt..
  • fish (15/05/2017, 20:22) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    This is worrying to say the least....
  • one eye (15/05/2017, 20:24) Like (16) Dislike (0) Reply
    "Meanwhile, the government has released some of the names of the officials of BVI Airways, but many have been calling our reporters to allege that the names of two other locals with interests have not been released. However, our newsroom has not been able to confirm the information of the other two persons in question."

    come on VINO you are back now give the people the information
  • VG (15/05/2017, 20:49) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply
    this is a slap in the face of local businesses
  • belonger (15/05/2017, 21:52) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    Which one of we plane they leasing​to make money for themselves​ WW or OS, when this pay us back our 7mil with interest?
  • Christopher Columbus Syndrome (15/05/2017, 22:08) Like (22) Dislike (2) Reply
    Columbus Strategy: Marry a Local with some level of status and you’re automatically in (in this case- a tourist board marketing/conflict of interest).

    Come in with some level of status and play the political game for self-interest with those who are willing to listen and release a bigger portion of taxpayers’ funds to fund the scheme. No worries- taxpayers’ are just barkers, no bites. A few handouts around election time will suffice. Residuals to be worked out at a later stage.

    An unchallenged “Utopia” for predatorial behaviours.

    Where is the loyalty: lease to Haiti, Cuba, or wherever the dollars flow before any official schedule for the BVI (BVI Airways, Our Motto: We take it anyway the money flow).

    Thank you taxpayers; we envisioned the potential. Furthermore, we have a case study corroborating the potentialities, expenses paid by you.

    Time to wake up and get fully involved. If not for your sake, at least for our children sake. It’s time to learn and understand the game being played before we succumb to 4th class citizens in our own country.

    Not all that glitters is gold.

  • £££££ (15/05/2017, 22:26) Like (24) Dislike (7) Reply
    Can you get an interview with Ryan R. E. Geluk? He has been in our community for many years and now that he has become a public figure, we need to know more about him. Where did he grow up? What is his background? What made him want to be so entrenched in our culture- as to marry into our local culture? Etc.

    Vino, can you all inquire on this? In the same vein, can you also inquire about Lester S. Hyman, and the other directors beyond the basic google search.

    Thanks in advance for the continued flow of necessary public information.

  • tola (15/05/2017, 23:50) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    Oh my god NDP government is really wicked against us an then ayo come talking both ayo looking out for ayo come to kill an distort out country UK plz come an take ayo place from these wicked set of people's that why ayo crying for independent so bad but get wah we ain't taking know independent
  • Told ya! (16/05/2017, 03:43) Like (12) Dislike (1) Reply
    I hate to say it but I told you guys almost a year ago that these aircraft were not purchased, but only leased, that there is no application for a permit to fly this route and that something is not adding up.
    As a pilot I am very in tune with the running of an airline and this thing has smelled fishy since day one!
    Now we find out that the plane has been sub-leased and is running on a route other than the intended use.
    Somebody is making a lot of money here and its NOT the tax payer!
    • Common practise (16/05/2017, 05:49) Like (6) Dislike (11) Reply
      If you are in tune with running the airline business you would know that the plane cannot fly to the us untill they get faa and tsa approval. You would also know that there are huge fixed costs associated with running an airline whether the plane flies or not, therefore it would make sense to sublease the plane untill they are able to run the tortola mia route and make some extra cash while waiting on the other approvals. That is extra money the tax payer does not have to come up with.

      Additionally you would also know that airlines would start a leasing company and have the leasing company buy the planes and then lease them back so that as to protect themselves in legal disputes from loosing all there assists. That is common practise.
      • moomoo (16/05/2017, 09:19) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
        There you said it! The bvi has nothing to gain from this as subsidies are not paid back. Since the premier is now saying its a subsidy. The only peollple who will gain from this are the shareholders. Is the BVI government a shareholder? Are you saying that Tronos is owned by BVI Airways because last time I checked the planes are being leased from Tronos. You all quick to defend piss! Fact is they gave these people money.. correction our money to start an airline from scratch. Your argument here makes no sense!
        • Common Practice (16/05/2017, 12:02) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
          You really should not label yourself as a moomoo everyone has there strenght and weeknesses. Additionally if you listened to the house of assembly you wpuld realise that the planes are not leased from or owned by tronos.
      • @common practice (16/05/2017, 11:49) Like (8) Dislike (3) Reply
        That's my point exactly! There was no application to fly that route, the airline did NOT buy the aircraft and lease it back to themselves and they did not start a leasing company!
        They have not followed ANY of the common practice's at all!
        I ran a flying school, leasing company and charter service for years and they have made every beginner mistake in the book!
        • Common practise (17/05/2017, 11:05) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
          You are speculating and do not have facts to defend opinion
  • anegada (16/05/2017, 04:29) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    Up to this day and age we still driving on SAND ?
  • @just wrong (16/05/2017, 06:27) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    In the USA, they call it a Special Prosecutor. They are calling for one to investigate to corruption, the collusion between Russian operates and Trump campaign that stole the US 2016 Elections from the electoral college and the ppl of America. I guess we need Special Prosecutor to investigate the corruption in NDP I guess we will get that when the new Sheriff comes to town.
    • good luck (16/05/2017, 09:51) Like (3) Dislike (5) Reply
      Are we in the US? Special Prosecutor... is people like you who for no sense make no issue an issue. The airline is clearly invested by our money as subsidised! The reason the money was given ahead of time, was to initiate the start up process. This means that when the aircraft starts to fly, that gov't make any more contributions. They had asked for an advance lease payment. All airline Local or Not are subsidised at some point in time. Some country still pay an annual subsidy, its no different here... the money was just paid in advancement. I dont see the big deal the money was going to get spend anyways. As for why the plane is not flying MIA, FAA and TSA is the last set of approval, once confirmed then BVIA can issue ticket sales and bookings. Just stay tune.
  • One VI (16/05/2017, 07:35) Like (5) Dislike (3) Reply

    Classic case of w..... man awe. Everytine you put a w....... man infront the NDP they just bend over. They would never do anything to facilitate a local b........ man. Even their so called friends could testify to that. But put a w...... man in front of them and anything he want he can have.

  • Bandit (16/05/2017, 08:53) Like (3) Dislike (3) Reply
    This shouldn't be a problem. Many airlines lease their planes out to generate additional revenues.
  • bimjim (16/05/2017, 09:25) Like (5) Dislike (5) Reply
    Sounds pretty normal to me... do you buy or lease aircraft for millions of dollars and then park them? NO, you make as much use of them as possible to earn revenue to pay back and protect your investment. If they are merely parked they still use up chunks of money at quite a rate of speed.

    Nothing in aviation happens right away, it takes time to apply for and be awarded route rights, and that usual time should be extended because you are dealing with a Treaty between the UK and the USA. Always bearing in kind that both countries are currently in political shambles for one reason or another. Leasing them out both pays for the aircrtaft and gives the crews a chance to get accustomed to the region - both major plus signs.

    Almost nobody lends to or invests in airlines these days, far less a small airline for the BVI. That the BVI Government lent them the money (or may have invested in the airline) is an expression of confidence in the owners and an investment in the Territory.

    Now a report was prepared by a consultancy for the BVIG to ensure the business is above board and you want to see it? When did the private business of BVI Airways become the business of the man in the street? Even if the BVIG money was an investment, since when does ANY businesses share their commercial plans and industrial secrets with the general public?

    You seriously need to get a grip on reality, my friend, you do NOT live in a Communist country - and even if you did, REALITY is that you would still get NOTHING from your superior "Comrades". Some pigs are more equal than other pigs, remember?
    • Huh? (16/05/2017, 10:49) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
      Not quite true! The recent upgraded Boeing Max that has recently been pushed back due to technical issues has standing orders by Asian airlines to purchase those airliners directly from the manufacturer. Airlines do own some of their planes and from time to time sell/lease to affiliates they have agreements with. So in a sense the carrier may or may not have a subsidiary company that purchased the equipment and then in turn leases back to said carrier. As some have said this provides some level of bankruptcy protection. As for the business case and the BVI Gov funding it with this preferred company to me reeks of collusion, insider trading (information) and other possible nefarious deals. So in essence another TPP deal that is shrouded in secrecy and 'commercial sensitivity'. If there is truly nothing to hide then we are they?
      • bimjim (16/05/2017, 17:25) Like (2) Dislike (4) Reply
        Do try and keep up, young man. And see if you can start to learn the English language, too, your response has nothing to do with what I wrote.

        The aircraft were purchased or leased, and while the airline is waiting for the DoT to approve rights into the USA the airplanes are making money opertating wet leases for other airlines - so that they doNOT go bankrupt. This is NORMAL practice.

        If you buy a bus and have to wait for a government permit to operate on a route between Beef Island and West End you can do charters to pay the bills - same thing.

        Otherwise, all the noise you see here is just nasty backwards dirty politricks - Opposition making noise because they are such hollow and superficial noise-makers. This is standard throughout the islands, some people are never happy unless they are slandering and/or libelling somebody else.
        • Huh? (16/05/2017, 19:18) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
          @bimjim - no need to be condescending and flippant. But I do sense that even though I agreed that this is a way to keep afloat while the FAA/DOT permissions are all done - you probably need new glasses to understand what I wrote. Are you one of the secreted 'local' shareholder/beneficiary? If so, GtFOH! This venture will flop and there is nothing you and your 'wise' friends can do about that! That's the real reason why the business car study/feasibility studies are NOT being released to the public. Puff on dat.
  • nighthawker (16/05/2017, 09:42) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    If the aircraft is lease it does not take 7.3 million to put an airline together
    lets be real hear I have done it over and over and it cost less than 7 million
    plus show me a major airline that is using that type of aircraft in this present age
    major carriers use to fly that type of aircraft and they took a beating...........they must learn from the big carriers and there pockets are deeper with more cash than the local goverment and they got rid of those planes because the expenses are very great...............the consulting firm need to re-emburse the goverment of the 22,000 because that aircraft is very expenses to operate and the goverment will be very sorry soon
  • B Savage (16/05/2017, 10:12) Like (6) Dislike (2) Reply

  • wow (16/05/2017, 11:36) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
    Why not Columbia since that is where NHI is sending you?
  • Len (16/05/2017, 12:21) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
    This must be a joke! Let me get this straight. Our government pump millions into BVI Airways to serve "us" the people of the Virgin Islands. Now, BVI Airways is being leased by Haitian Airlines, which decides to serve route between Haiti and Cuba....really??? Someone needs to wake me up and tell me this is not happening..i must be dreaming.

    As a Virgin Islander, my questions to the powers that be are: is this really possible that the government can use taxpayers money to benefit other countries without "us" the taxpayers getting anything is return? Is this legal?

    Last time I check, it is "mandatory" for us to pay tax on anything over $10,000.00 in i say it should be made mandatory that the government be held ACCOUNTABLE for our hard earn money!..Yes, OUR MONEY!

    I rest my case!
  • Kil (16/05/2017, 12:38) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    The people will continue to suffer. This length of time they in power and cant properly account for anything. you think this is the truth. Please, common ploy to please and ease the masses. They know full well what is going on. Economically stable? Doing well? Answer me this people. If you so called doing well why is the cost of living continuing to rise. What is there a new tax every other day. How the hell can our Gov still be spending money that not there. As far as I know the higher the debt, the longer it takes to pay back and the less favorable we look to potential Investors.

    The country slowly circling the abyss. Time to clock out people. We live in a country where the old refuse to give up positions of authority, the young turning to violence, Jobs are scarce. We have no Natural resources.
    Jobs of High priority are paid S#it wages compared to every other place in the world. Yet we steady bigging up a sinking ship. Cut the foolishness people. Yall not dumb.
  • hello (16/05/2017, 13:58) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    How you manage to get into this mess Ryan? Who are you fronting?
  • chad (16/05/2017, 16:33) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    So we looking at over 53 million dollars of tax payers money down the drain. Out children starving, roads in disarray, schools full of rats and mold, dont talk about the college and the complex, teachers have to buy supplies with their already meager salaries, the college falling apart and ayuh still going to borrow money for an airport that can wait.
    So yeah, somebody need to bloody well go o jail.
  • @common practice (16/05/2017, 17:54) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
  • @common practice (16/05/2017, 18:03) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    The second Avro RJ100 for BVI Airways, VP-LWW (msn E3274 ex HB-IXV), has been painted in the airline’s colors at Summerside. her colors differ from those sported by the airline’s first RJ100, VP-LOS (msn E3282), in that the underside is painted dark blue. It is thought that VP-LOS will also be repainted in this scheme. BVI Airways completed the acquisition of VP-LWW from Tronos on 20 December 2016, but she had remained at Summerside being prepared for service. The airline received a revised Air Operator Certificate (AOC) in February, but is still awaiting approval from US authorities to begin flights to Miami.
  • understanding (17/05/2017, 12:54) Like (1) Dislike (2) Reply
    Everyone needs to calm down, this antics by the article is nothing more than hype news. The plane is only lease to the Haitian company temp. While they wait on the final approval from the FAA. Our people (local Flight Attendant) are currently flying on those planes as we speak. The money is coming right back home, it's not going anywhere. This article needs to be more detailed, and not sticking the sword in one part. Airlines, hardly buy their own planes now, leasing aircraft is much easier... as it reduce cost dramatically.
  • American Made (19/05/2017, 19:31) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is exactly what happen when you put projects in place and do not establish checks and balances.

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