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Nassau, 28 Dec 2014 – The recent unprovoked and unwarranted industrial action taken by the Pilots of the national flag carrier Bahamasair is of great concern to the government of the Bahamas in that the cost and inconvenience to the traveling public calls for immediate action to be taken to avoid further occurrences. I am deeply troubled that Pilots took this unlawful and unwarranted industrial action less than six hours after being informed that the Minister of Labour would take their proposal to Cabinet the following day – nothing was refused, nothing was denied. The fact that they took this action anyway – without even filing a trade dispute clearly indicates it was always their intent to disrupt the airline’s ability to operate.

Over the past two years the government has given considerable effort to securing a strategic partner for Bahamasair, but this gross act of corporate sabotage brings cause for acceleration of the government’s efforts to relieve the Bahamian taxpayer of this heavy financial burden. Moreover, irresponsible and selfish acts of this nature do not provide the shareholder with an incentive to pursue any form of service or route expansion. In fact this behavior demonstrates the need to fully consider the merits of retrenchment as a more realistic course of action. Over its 41 years of existence, Bahamasair received $541 million dollars through June 2013 in subsidies which could have been utilized to build new schools or hospitals, improve infrastructure like roads or harbours, additional personnel and equipment to combat crime or even a new correctional facility. Quite frankly, all concerned must come to grips with the reality that Bahamasair is no longer an essential service.

Major foreign carriers provide for the bulk of tourist traffic into the country and over the past 8 years, 31 local carriers have been licensed to provide scheduled services throughout the archipelago; the domestic landscape has changed dramatically. It is no secret that Bahamasair pilots are paid salaries well in excess of their regional counterparts and utilized (flying hours) considerably less. The facts are, a Senior Jet Captain with Bahamasair makes up to $132,000 annually before overtime. By comparison a Bahamasair Senior Dash 8 Captain makes up to $91,000 which is staggering when considering that his regional equivalent with LIAT airways makes $36,000 annually after 15% income tax. Additionally, Pilots make up only ten percent (10%) of the entire staff at Bahamasair but account for thirty percent (30%) of the payroll; there is something wrong with this picture.

Any right and reasonable thinking person will agree that under these conditions it is unconscionable that the Pilots would take such drastic action at a time when Bahamians with very small incomes are seeking to shop abroad, students are returning home and our main industry tourism is at its peak. The actions of these individuals will be reviewed within the context of the company’s policies and procedures.

I have directed that management provide me with the full costing of the past week’s events. In full view of the costs and embarrassment to the company and the pilots’ insensitivity to the Bahamian people, their recent action may have consumed the limited resources necessary to facilitate our last proposal and may necessitate that we withdraw that proposal. Moreover, the financial impact of recent events is nowhere as damaging as will be the negative publicity received from local and international travelers, which is immeasurable. This may take years to recover from, especially when hearing locals say they will never fly Bahamasair again balanced against the comments of tourists who say “they will never return to the Bahamas”, all as a result of this terrible experience brought on by the actions of a group of selfish individuals.

Nevertheless, the Government, the Board of Directors and the Management of Bahamasair takes this opportunity to extend our sincere and heartfelt thanks to our front line staff of Bahamasair who in the face of extreme pressure continued to give 100% as they serviced the needs of our passengers. I would also like to thank the local carriers that provided assistance during our time of need. Taking into consideration that they are always our competitors, however, in this instance they were patriots and joined us as partners in service to our nation.

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Education Minister announces Platinum Partnerships for internet and tablet program amidst COVID surge



By Shaniek Smith

Staff Writer


#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – Schools did not resume in person learning in the Turks and Caicos on January 4, instead it was back to virtual classes for 7,400 children in the British overseas territory due to an omicron-driven surge in Covid-19 infections.

It was announced on the New Year’s Day holiday for TCI, January 3 in a press conference hosted by Rachel Taylor, the Minister of Education, and attended by Jamell Robinson, Minister of Health and supported by Premier Washington Misick, who was also at the live event.

In a promised update, parents got the not-so-good-news, virtual classes would resume at least until the end of January due to the surge and staff shortages being experienced.  Turks and Caicos, up to Thursday January 14 had over 800 active cases, five new deaths and a 600 per cent increase in hospitalisations.  The Minister said the decision was in the interest of safety.

The Minister also promised to get devices and internet to students in order for them to participate in learning during this virtual-only season.  The press conference on January 13, welcomed partners Flow, Digicel and the Pine Cay Project.

In her address, chair of the Pine Cay Project, Marie Landel, said that an urgent call from Dr. Carlton Mills, a member of their board of trustees revealed that about 750 students would be without internet connection and devices.

The Pine Cay Project responded to that information and has agreed to pay for internet for 30 days students, with its partner in the initiative, DigicelTCI.  It is an $18,000 investment in education continuity for hundreds of children.

“We had strong discussions on what we should do with the money that we collect every year, so yesterday we agreed to the funding in emergency situation of 300 internet connections and devices that are going to help the students in need, and we’re very proud to be able to act quickly,” Landel expressed.

Additionally, the Marketing Manager at Digicel TCI, Mr Drexler Smith, said Digicel has partnered with the Ministry of Education to provide about 1,000 tablets for public schools. Smith added that 75 MiFi devices valued at 7,000 dollars were provided; they come with free data services for up to three months for students in need.

Digicel has also created a special education plan for e-learning with specific zero-rated sites and applications. The company partnered with Pine Cay and other private entities in this regard. Various schools and educational facilities in South Caicos, Five Cays, and Providenciales have benefitted from laptops, data plans, MiFi’s, and e-learning kits.

Marketing Executive Flow TCI, Darron Hilaire, also shared the contributions Flow made to the education sector since the pandemic.

“Within the last three years, Flow TCI, through our charitable foundation, would have donated $130,000 worth of ICT equipment to 2 schools respectively in Grand Turk and in Providenciales for the outfitting of the new computer labs to help facilitate the ministry’s vision to foster an efficient e-learning environment for students,” he said.

Mr. Hilaire added that within the first year of the pandemic, Flow responded to requests from the Ministry to increase the bandwidth to public schools in the TCI. Hilaire said Flow home internet speed doubles automatically at no cost to its customers in early July.

He said that within the last 60 days, Flow TCI announced a recent donation of $25,000 dollars to two schools in North Caicos and one in Providenciales. The donation was in aid of increasing connectivity and infrastructural upgrades.

“As we come to the end of this phase of the project, our objective is to look at doing the same for other schools in the second phase of the projects to further arm our schools with the access to technology to provide the best quality education to students,” Hilaire added.

Amanyara Resort, not present at the press event, was said to be working on additional laptops for hundreds of children despite having already donated to several schools in Providenciales.

Minister Rachel Taylor and her team, including Eugene Grant, ICT Education Officer at the Ministry of Education and Mark Garland, Deputy Director of Education thanked the donors; they were labelled Platinum Partners by the Minister.


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Over 5000 COVID cases on Cruises, CDC investigations launched



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer


#January 15, 2022 – Cruises have continued across the Americas despite the US Centers for Disease Control dire warning that even vaccinated individuals should be wary of them. Now the CDC informs that Coronavirus cases have been reported on every cruise ship sailing with passengers in U.S. waters.

According to the CDC, all 92 ships with passengers have met the threshold for investigation by the public health agency. In every case, the CDC has either started an investigation or has investigated.

Surges in Covid-19 on land have led to spikes on the high seas, revealed that update on Tuesday. Cases have rocketed from 162 in early December to 5,013 up to December 29th.

The CDC warned travellers including those who are vaccinated to avoid cruising in December, following the announcement videos surfaced of jam-packed cruise ships with unmasked passengers ringing in the New Year.

Meanwhile, Grand Turk is still welcoming cruise ships.  Eleven cruise ships are scheduled to dock at the Grand Turk Cruise Center throughout January, according to the port schedule.

Jamell Robinson, TCI Minister of Health has confirmed that ships have been allowed to dock in Grand Turk with positive COVID cases on board.

He said. “Now in each ship there are stations or places for isolation on board…Just because a vessel has people with Covid-19 on it doesn’t necessarily mean we wouldn’t allow them to disembark.”

The minister explained the number of positive cases recorded on cruise ships that had arrived in Grand Turk was .001 per cent of all guests and they were not allowed to disembark.

So far, Turks and Caicos has turned away at least one cruise liner due to fears of COVID exposure in the capital, which has gone from a handful of active cases to now 111, as of January 14.

The US Centers for Disease Control reported on Tuesday that COVID-19 cases on cruise ships have increased to 30 times what they were in mid-December.



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New York, US Epicenter for Omicron “turning the corner”



By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer


#USA, January 15, 2022 – Today, New York is seeing a downward trend in Covid-19 cases, as officials revealed, “we are turning the corner” on Friday in updating on the state of affairs in the city, labelled the epicenter of omicron for the United States.

Before, data from the New York State Department of Health showed that the number of new coronavirus infections per 100,000 vaccinated residents in the State, rose from 29.8 in the first week of December to 222.3 last week.  Also, the rate of new cases in unvaccinated adults rose from 239.6 to 1,583.1 per 100,000.

New York is a key source market for the Turks and Caicos and much of the Caribbean, which is heavily reliant upon winter travellers.  The data showed, too, that vaccine effectiveness against severe infection remained high.

Only 4.59 fully vaccinated adults out of 100,000 were hospitalised with COVID-19 in the week of December 27.  However, that number increased, and the hospitalisation rate for the unvaccinated is nearly 13 times higher.

New York’s rolling positivity rate fell below 20% in recent days, but media reports indicate the death toll in the State hit a startling high of 195 for the first time since the mass vaccination rollout.




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