[TIA] Another questionable airline plans startup in the EC

Post Reply
User avatar
Forum Administrator
Forum Administrator
Posts: 31643
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006

[TIA] Another questionable airline plans startup in the EC

Unread post by bimjim » Wed Jun 14, 2017

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/another- ... -chlumecky

Another questionable small regional airline plans to start up in the Eastern Caribbean
  • - and its set-up and planned regulatory oversight is worrying.
Tomas Chlumecky Aviation Business Development & Airline Executive
April 16, 2017

Trans Island Air 2000 (abbreviated TIA) was a small charter airline based in Barbados, with headquarters in St. Philip, and operated regional charter flights (including cargo) out of its base at Grantley Adams International Airport, Barbados a FAA Category 2 airport.

The airline was founded in 1982 as Trans Island Air, and was rebranded by American buyer Bruce Kaufman as Trans Island Air 2000 in 2000, and at this time operated a mixed fleet including Pilatus Britten-Norman Islanders, Rockwell Aero Commanders, a DHC-6 Twin Otter and an Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante.

The airline was subsequently closed, and remained so for several years, then re-emerged and last year, shut down now its on again ? like a bad dream.

TIA2000 has now apparently received an AOC (for Beech 99's and King Air 100) to re-commence flight operations, this time scheduled services on top of charters. It was expected to be fully operational by April 2017, but has encountered several difficulties along the way, and its Chief Pilot just resigned.

Its web-site, http://www.tia2000.com, was said to be currently under design development, and was expected to launch by April 1, 2017 at the latest, but so far [April 27, 2017] is still not functional. I can see this going to be another Carib Express (BAe 146), British Caribbean Airlines (BAe 146) or RedJet (MD-80), three very short lived airlines in the region that just did not make 'business' sense before they even got started.

Look, how do you start an airline in April, 2017 when your web page is not up yet to take reservations, I have seen this so often, and then they fly around with load factors below 25% bleeding cash, just must have reservations on line at least 3 months before first scheduled flight, especially today when everything is moving to online purchases.

The Governments of St. Lucia, Barbados and Dominica are counting on it to start up, to help with air connectivity and air access but a 3rd start ? its a funny operation and a roll of the dice for the various Governments, and lots of hopes will be crushed but then a airline based in St. Lucia, with Barbadian aircraft, working with a St. Lucia AMO and flying in a region under the ECCAA (Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority).

Who will issue the AOC Barbados ? seriously ? they are a joke, only a Category 2 airport themselves (plus Georgetown, Guyana, Curacao and St. Maarten), how will they look after an AMO in St. Lucia and operations throughout the Eastern Caribbean ? when they themselves cannot adhere to US FAA airport regulations ?

In fact, St. Lucia and Barbados do not even have a CAA, just a Ministry of Aviation, and Barbados has not even been able to become FAA Category 1 airport in many years, still just a Category 2, and if they can't adhere to FAA regulations on airport operations how can they have an oversight over commercial aircraft and operators ? that we can trust to be 'safe' and compliant with all regulations ? its a big "gong show" in my opinion.

Indonesia just got its Category 1 back from the US after losing it in April 2007, according to the FAA Indonesia was "no longer overseeing the safety of its airlines in accordance with international standards", and this is the case of Barbados today.

It can't get its airport up to international safety standards and therefore any airline registered there is not safe, and that is why Category 2 airport countries cannot start any new direct services into the USA or codeshare with any US airline and TIA 2000 with a Barbadian AOC, will be limited by codeshare opportunities, but also should be avoided if the FAA Category 2 is taken as a sign of poor safety oversight in that country at the airport and like in Indonesia, its commercial operators.

Seems like a lot of funny things going on in the Eastern Caribbean, that cannot work with so many aviation "authorities" having responsibility, it is just unworkable and unsafe, and if it goes through, then I won't fly on the airline, its another Caribbean aviation disaster in the making.

This is an area that is totally dependent on aviation for its citizens and valuable tourists to move around freely, but time and time again the industry is abused and held back from being an efficient money making business that serves its good people well.

Then there is the whole question of local government owned LIAT, and its reaction to any competition, while a forever money loser thanks to political interference, it has always stood up strongly to any new competitor (e.g. Carib Express, Caribbean Star) and won.

You do not step on LIAT's toes, best to co-operate, which sadly is a word the government airline does know, yet the ATR-42/72-600 operator badly needs smaller turboprop operators (DHC-6, Beech 1900D) to supplement and compliment its ATR fleet where and when demand is below profitability.

IF LIAT is ever to make money or stay out of bankruptcy, it needs to off load its "social routes" to smaller operators, bring in professional management team composed of people who know how to run a profitable airline, as no one in LIAT has that experience, and the Governments need to keep out of the running of the airline.

One only needs to look at Government owned Cayman Airways, now profitable, getting B737Max8's and will connect West Coast to Grand Cayman. Once airline executives are free to run an airline on commercial basis, even money losing airlines can become profitable, and hopefully Bahamasair is next to embrace this "hands off" approach as it seeks strategic partner for its national airline.

I work a lot in the Caribbean, and their graveyard of failed airlines over the past 37 years is 50+, that is a lot of airlines for a small region, including national carriers like Air Jamaica, BWIA, Guyana Airways, ALM down to small airlines like Helenair, Nevis Express, Tiara Air, Air BVI, Carib Aviation, Air Caribbean to CIA operations flying arms/drugs like St. Lucia Airways (L-100-20, B707) and Seagreen Air Transport (B707, CV990) back in the 1980's (see my blog; Aviation Doctor on clandestine airlines), seems only a few stick around a long time like SVG Air and Mustique Airways, unless they are backed by their Governments (Bahamasair, Cayman Airways, Surinam Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Winair and LIAT).

It will be interesting how this plays out, but the good news is that St. Vincent now has a new international airport (AIA) Argyle International Airport, and is looking for airlines to come and fly there, how about a flag carrier designation?

User avatar
Forum Administrator
Forum Administrator
Posts: 31643
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006

Re: [TIA] Another questionable airline plans startup in the

Unread post by bimjim » Wed Jun 14, 2017

It may indeed be relevant that, when Bruce Kaufman closed down TIA the first time (#1), he had bought what used to be the late (founder of LIAT) Sir Frank Delisle's fine and well-run charter company Carib Aviation, and that not very long after he also closed that airline down too (#2).

He had leased two aircraft to Jamaica Air Shuttle, proceeded to arrive in Jamaica and repossess the aircraft, and so quickly closed down that airline as well (#3).

On his return to Barbados, he re-started his precious TIA 2000, and within a year that company failed too (#4). This Jack-In-The Box Phoenix-like incarnation of the same TIA 2000 is expected to suffer the same fate - all this by a man who claims that accountants (like he claims to be himself) are the only people qualified to run an airline.

Anyway, along the way he had somehow become financially involved in SVG Air and Mustique Airways, but those owners bought him out before he could blunder through and destroy their operations too.

Bruce Kaufman is an American millionaire so-called accountant who firmly believes that the ONLY skills appropriate for running an airline are those held by accountants (which he claims to be), and that pilots and other airline specialists - no matter their training, qualifications and experience - are totally incompetent for doing that job. One needs to speak to the man personally to experience his over-riding arrogance, but - by and large - we have come to expect that of Americans.

The approach to this particular incarnation of TIA is so scattershot and misplaced that we believe remaining on this course it is doomed to failure. Clearly Kaufman must have made some wild promises to the politicians in the affected destinations, and only time will tell if he can pull it off in the teeming crocodile-infested swamp he has built between civil aviation authorities with a veritable maze of overlapping and incompatible AOCs and operating, oversight and legal jurisdictions.

Some employees were laid off a while ago amid expectations that he had abandoned the re-start, only to be re-hired again last week. I am told that all - 100% - priority is given to local marketing and revenue (despite a still-blank web site at the date of writing this), and none at all - 0.0% - to getting the aircraft operational and making sure they have suitably qualified pilots available.

So the horse rides the cart into the sunset at a full gallop, with an American in the saddle waving his cowboy hat in the air and yelling "YEEEHAAA" at the top of his lungs into the bargain - I have visions of a movie clip of actor Slim Pickens riding a nuclear bomb falling out of the belly of a B52 bomber.

While all that provides enough question as to whether TIA will even get off the ground this time around, further doubt is demonstrated by the proposed revenue model. Yes, a Twin Otter will take a little more time to do the routes, but the costs will be distributed over 19 seats - and it can carry ALL of the baggage. The Beech 99 TIA is using will have only 13 seats, and on that aircraft type at times that passenger number will have to be reduced to 9 or 10 in order to take all of the baggage of those on board.

Bear in mind that the operational hourly costs are cheaper for a Twin Otter because it does not have the considerable expense of retractable gear (wheels), which have to be renovated or replaced when they run out of cycles - every penny in aircraft expenses must be calculated into the hourly operating costs - and therefore what is charged per passenger. The Twin Otter divides the costs by 19 seats, whereas the fancy Beech 99 will be limited to 13 - and on occasion as few as 9 - seats due to baggage considerations.

Historically, making money in the Caribbean aviation environment does not seem to be Kaufman's forte... in his old age this so-called accountant seems to have forgotten how to calculate basic mathematics.

In Dominica, due to landing distance required, the Beech 99 can only serve Douglas Charles (what used to be Melville Hall) - and not Canefield (next bay along to the capital, Roseau) - so, while the flight time would be a bit shorter than landing next to the town, there is then still about an hour after passing Customs to be "enjoyed" jolting over the mountains in a mini-bus or taxi to get to the west coast.

In all that time, the (more versatile and short-runway capable) Twin Otter could have flown past, landed at Canefield, off-loaded, and have already departed again for another destination. And the Twin Otter passengers would be in Roseau at least an hour before those who had landed at George Charles and endured the mountain ride.

I am sure that if he pours enough money into the new TIA bomb-crater he has created over the last three years Mr. Kaufman can start operating again - he has apparently been awarded an AOC by the ridiculously unqualified Barbados authority - but it is to be seen whether this accountant can make a profit while pedalling uphill on a child's tricycle carrying a 5,000 pound load of his usual BS.

The fact is, despite having been "dabbling" in small eastern Caribbean airlines for over 20 years it is clear that Kaufman has to date learned little or nothing about how to set up and run a (very small) airline properly, despite being the "accountant expert" he claims is the only skill valid for the task. One would have thought that all his experiences with FAILURE over the last 20 years would at least have given him some insight about how NOT to do things. Arrogance must be a heck of a disease to be unable to shake off.

BTW, I would offer a suggestion that the fact that the Barbados Department of Civil Aviation has approved this operation for an AOC WITHOUT fully serviceable aircraft, WITHOUT all of the necessary qualified pilots, WITHOUT adequate management expertise - the list goes on - makes it clear that the DCA has made ZERO progress towards qualifying for IASA/ICAO Category One, that their own performance is abysmal at best (and "fully paid for" at worst), and that their IASA/ICAO Category 2 ("Unsafe") label is fully justified.

With all the DCA's staff shortages, my info is that they themselves consider there are apparently still no substantial vacancies and they continue to blunder happily along - with the blessing of the Minister. The ECCAA would be well advised not to accept any assurances from the Barbados CAD - if only because they are 100% unable to oversee their own operations right there at home, far less over 100 miles away, in a different country, and in an old disused 40-year-old hangar in St. Lucia.

Also bear in mind that the current Director - and all past Directors since Ted Went, about 1973 - of Civil Aviation in Barbados have been Air Traffic Controllers elevated well past their "Peter Principle" level of incompetence, and are without adequate qualifications or wider experience to perform the job, far less improve upon it in any manner. By and large they have come out of secondary school and been trained as Air Traffic Controllers - period. When one retires, another is appointed, no vacancies are advertised. For at least 30 years there has been ZERO effort by the Barbados government to find competent leadership to lead that country out of the "aviation swamp".

To date there is still no legislation in place for a Barbados CAA - which I suspect the politicians are dragging their feet on because it means a mandatory loss of political control over that body - and with Barbados currently in a national debt of some $12 Billion dollars I suspect there is no money to pay qualified people even if they could get them - except that while the politicians continue to print money - and enlarge the debt they can still find a flood of money for a myriad of other politically conducive projects.

Just FYI, according to the FAA:
  • An ICAO/IASA Category 2 Safety rating means a country (not just a specific airport) lacks laws, regulations and/or qualified personnel necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority – equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters – is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping or inspection procedures.

(IASA standards are FAA ratings based on ICAO standards, not on FAA regulations, and are considered interchangeable.)

Corruption, arrogance, narrow-mindedness, short-sightedness, bureaucracy, stagnation, stupidity and politics continue to reign supreme in the Caribbean, and especially in Barbados. Hopefully the end of these ridiculous qualities will not coincide with the bankruptcy of several of our small nations.

Post Reply

Return to “Trans Island Air 2000 - Barbados”