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[Bahamas] Why are we farming out flying jobs to foreigners?

Bahamas Air Line Pilots' Association
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[Bahamas] Why are we farming out flying jobs to foreigners?

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Jun 13, 2014

http://www.thenassauguardian.com/opinio ... foreigners

[Bahamas] Why are we farming out flying jobs to foreigners?
Jun 13, 2014

Dear Editor,

For more than 40 years, the pilots of the Bahamas Airline Pilots Association (B-ALPA) have committed ardently to the success of the national airline, Bahamasair. Professionalism, an unwavering commitment to safety and continued high standards have afforded Bahamians an airline worthy of this great nation.

However, the efforts of the pilot body have gone without notice due to the continued failures of executive management. The continued losses, lack of a viable business plan and little regard for industry best practices have kept Bahamasair stuck in the 1990s era when management and the then government decided to park four Boeing 737-200 aircraft, wholly owned by Bahamasair, on the tarmac removing scheduled jet services from the eastern seaboard of the United States.

For the past three years, our association has seen the media reports and heard the cries of the local hoteliers seeking a solution to the tourism airlift shortfalls. The Lynden Pindling International Airport was opened with much fanfare and pageantry, as an enticement to international airlines. It was announced that the gateway to the country was now ready to receive them.

To the discredit of Bahamasair, no business plans were revealed nor any airlift strategy proffered to help fill the hotel room nights needed at Atlantis, Sandals (Exuma), Cable Beach and soon Baha Mar. Instead, the Ministry of Tourism actively pursued foreign airlines while the shareholders chronically griped in Parliament about the accrued losses of a poorly run airline where managers, some of them political appointees, run the day-to-day operations without penalty after failing to make any appreciable change to the status quo of Bahamasair and make it a viable entity in the global market.

Bahamasair recently acquired a third 737-500 aircraft, which was intended to be used to maintain schedule integrity and begin flying international routes to source additional revenue streams for the airline. Concurrently, the Grand Bahama tourism product was in dire need of airlift to help jump start that local economy, on a smaller scale compared to the New Providence market with remarkably more room nights to fill.

BALPA saw this as a golden opportunity to make the national airline relevant and desperately wanted to be an integral partner in solving the Grand Bahama airlift situation. This opportunity would have been the perfect option for Bahamasair to begin international flights outside of South Florida again, with executive management looking to streamline operations and seeking greater efficiencies before beginning a real push to compete in the Nassau airlift market and be ready for the Baha Mar opening.

To the contrary, Bahamasair, under an agreement with the Ministry of Tourism, sought out a foreign airline to operate out of Grand Bahama on our behalf. The arrival of this foreign carrier, operating scheduled services on behalf of Bahamasair and the Ministry of Tourism, is in direct violation of the industrial agreement with B-ALPA and Bahamasair. It is unthinkable that Bahamasair in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism, at the detriment of Bahamian pilots, would seek to use Bahamian tax dollars to provide flying jobs for foreign air crew. Most egregious is the fact that the foreign carrier operates the same aircraft type that Bahamasair operates and Bahamian air crews have been operating safely and successfully for the past 30 years.

The wet leasing of a foreign carrier to operate flights Bahamian pilots are fully capable of flying goes directly against the shareholders mandate of Bahamianization. The dreams of many future pilots are being turned into dismay.

The hopes of additional job opportunities for Grand Bahamians, who could be hired as ground support staff or even flight attendants, are all dashed due to this callous disregard for our very own.
We want to know how much money has been spent over the last three years on MOT’s 100 percent funding of a Bahamasair-brokered wet lease agreement with Vision Air and Xtra Airways Ltd?
If MOT was so interested in funding an airline initiative, why was it not mandated to fund or partner with the national airline?

How many Bahamians have lost job opportunities because of this and previous wet lease agreements?

The pilots of Bahamasair have flown as far north as Edmonton, Canada, and as far south as Suriname, Dutch Guiana, for the pride of the Bahamian people. We are a proven commodity and comprise a body of capable, experienced men and women who have resolved to fight for the flying opportunities we deserve, opportunities that provide career development and growth. The same opportunities that the Ministry of Tourism is providing to foreign carriers flying into our country, paid for by Bahamian tax dollars, are opportunities that should be reserved solely for Bahamians.

– Bahamas Airline Pilots Association

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