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Air Navigation Services Agreement ends ‘decades’ of talks; fees to be paid to Bahamas Government

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#Bahamas, May 9, 2021 – Officials of the newly-created Bahamas Air Navigation Services Authority and the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Wednesday (May 5, 2021) concluded the ceremonial signing of a historic Air Navigation Services Agreement between the two entities.

Minister of Tourism and Aviation, the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar, said the Agreement allows the Minnis Administration to correct a “construct that left The Bahamas totally out of the loop as it relates to the management and fee collection for the use of its sovereign airspace.”

The Signing means that (commencing May 1, 2021) aircraft landing in, and departing out of the sovereign airspace of The Bahamas; aircraft flying solely within the airspace of The Bahamas, and aircraft flying over the sovereign airspace of The Bahamas, will – for the very first time – pay fees for the use of its airspace to an entity owned and operated by the Government of The Bahamas.

Officials said the signing concluded “decades upon decades’ of talks between The Bahamas and the United States about the management of the sovereign airspace of The Bahamas.

“Today, the Bahamas will assume – for the very first time – the management of its sovereign airspace,” Minister D’Aguilar said at the Signing which was attended by senior government officials from The Bahamas, senior officials from the United States Embassy, Nassau, and representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

“Commencing May 1, 2021, aircraft landing in and departing out of the sovereign airspace of The Bahamas, aircraft flying solely within the sovereign airspace o The Bahamas, and aircraft flying over the sovereign airspace of The Bahamas will start, for the very first time, to pay fees to an entity solely owned and operated by the Government of The Bahamas.

“For that reason, this air navigation services management agreement is historic. Never before in the history of an independent Bahamas has anyone paid anything to the Government of The Bahamas for the use of its airspace. Today, that changes,” Minister D’Aguilar added.

The Tourism and Aviation Minister said achieving the “historic milestone” was not easy.  He said almost 70 years ago, Great Britain, the United States and Cuba gathered in Havana where it was decided that the provision of air navigation services over what is now the sovereign airspace of The Bahamas (The Bahamas was a colony of Great Britain at the time), would be divided between the FAA (United States) and its equivalent (ECNA) from Cuba.

He said the FAA was assigned the greatest portion of Bahamian sovereign airspace (approximately 75 per cent) in which to provide air navigation services, while the Cubans were assigned the remaining 25 per cent.

“The Bahamas was assigned nothing other than a small area around Nassau only up to 6,000 feet.” Minister D’Aguilar said.

Mr. D’Aguilar said aircraft using the sovereign airspace of The Bahamas paid fees directly to the FAA and the Cubans, and that: “once again, The Bahamas received not one red cent from this arrangement.”

“In the minds of most, right-thinking Bahamians, this arrangement was unacceptable and, since assuming office in May, 2017, this Minnis Administration, this Minister of Aviation, made it an absolute priority to conclude an Agreement, like the one today, to correct the construct that left The Bahamas totally out of the loop as it relates to the management and fee collection for the use of its sovereign airspace.”

Minister D’Aguilar said the process wasn’t easy.

“And I must say everyone was extremely skeptical that after many stops and starts, we would ever reach this point today.”

Mr. D’Aguilar said all air space user fees collected by the Government, can only be used to fund the costs of managing and operating the civil aviation system in The Bahamas – a cost, he said, that prior to the Agreement was funded solely by the taxpayers of The Bahamas.

“Funds collected from airspace users cannot be deposited into the Consolidated Fund and used for purposes other than providing a safe and well-managed aviation sector. Finally, all fees charged must, according to the United Nations Convention on Civil Aviation, Article 15, be non-discriminatory, that is, all Carriers will pay the same fee irrespective of their nationality. We could not, for example, charge one fee for Bahamian Carriers and another fee for non-Bahamian Carriers,” Mr. D’Aguilar added.

PHOTO CAPTION

US Embassy Charge d’Affaires Usha Pitts and Minister of Tourism and Aviation the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar are pictured at the signing ceremony for the historic Air Navigation Services Agreement between the newly-created Bahamas Air Navigation Services Authority and the United States Federal Aviation Administration, May 5, 2021 at the Cabinet Office. 

By Matt Maura

(BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

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Bahamas News

Over 68,000 STAYED HOME in Bahamas Elections; We have BEST and WORST for Voter Participation

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#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – The just-concluded General Election in Bahamas has presented a new shift in governance.  The former ruling part, Free National Movement, lost nearly all the electoral seats it secured in the 2017 general elections.  However, this seems a swap of the Progressive Liberal party’s score in the 2017 general elections in which the former ruling party (FNM) won nearly all the parliamentary seats.

68,000 STAYED AWAY

While the FNM secured 35 out of 39 seats in the 2017 ballot, leaving only four slots for the Opposition, the 2021 elections presented “new day” with the Opposition clinching 32 parliamentary seats, leaving the former ruling party FNM with only seven slots.

However, the election results showed a significant drop in voter turnout compared to the 2017 election results. Out of 194,494 registered voters in The Bahamas, only 126,414 voted, translating to 65 per cent voter turnout.

PREVIOUS ELECTION HIGHER

This was different from the previous election in which 160,407 out of 181,543 registered voters cast their ballots, translating to a remarkable 88.36 per cent voter turnout.

Being the first election in the island nation since the Covid-19 struck the Caribbean; the dismal voter turnout could be attributed to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in The Bahamas and the current countermeasures taken by individuals to avoid contracting the deadly virus.

It could also be voter apathy.

BEST IN SHOW

Despite coronavirus prevalence in the country, North Andros & Berry Islands, Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and Mangrove Cay & South Andros constituencies recorded an impressive voter turnout of 77.99 per cent, 76.11 per cent and 73.06 per cent respectively.

North Andros & Berry Islands had 2,126 out of 2,569 registered voters cast their ballots, followed by 1,255 out of 1,622 in Cat Island, Rum Cay & San Salvador, and 1,706 out of 2,164 registered voters in Mangrove Cay & South Andros.

VERY LOW SHOW

The bottom three constituencies in terms of voter turnout include Bamboo Town, which had 3,436 out of 5,838 (58.63 per cent) registered voters cast their ballot, followed by Garden Hills with 3,033 out of 5,287 (57.09 per cent), and   Central & South Abaco falling at the bottom of the list with 1,844 out of 3,271 (55.96 per cent).

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BAHAMAS: Nine new Cabinet ministers sworn-in

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#TheBahamas, September 21, 2021 – Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis today introduced the first set of new Cabinet ministers with portfolios covering the Attorney General, Foreign Affairs, Education, Works and Public Utilities, Health and Wellness, Government Affairs, Agriculture, National Security and Legal Affairs.

The nine ministers were sworn-in on Monday 20 September 2021 by Governor-General the Most Hon. Sir Cornelius A. Smith during ceremonies held at the Baha Mar Convention Center.

“They are the initial members of a Cabinet which will reflect the breadth and depth of the competencies and characteristics of our team: experience combined with innovation; expertise combined with a willingness to see things anew; integrity and a strong sense of purpose,” said Prime Minister Davis.

“They are receiving these appointments because of their determination to get things done.”

Among the new Ministers sworn-in on Monday were:

  • Senator the Hon. L. Ryan Pinder, Attorney General;
  • Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Public Service;
  • Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education, and Technical and Vocational Training;
  • Hon. Alfred Sears, Minister of Works and Utilities;
  • Dr. Hon. Michael Darville, Minister of Health and Wellness;
  • Senator the Hon. Michael Halkitis, Minister of Government Affairs and Leader of Government Business in the Senate;
  • Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs;
  • Hon. Wayne Munroe, Minister of National Security; and
  • Hon. Jomo Campbell, Minister of State for Legal Affairs.

“I am confident that these first-appointed members of our Cabinet team are ready to deliver on the promise of a New Day for our Bahamas,” said the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Davis pledged to move with urgency to address the economic and health crises that are faced by The Bahamas.

Many thousands of Bahamians are out of work, people are losing too many loved ones to the COVID-19 virus and Bahamian schoolchildren are falling behind, said Prime Minister Davis.

“I want to be clear: we are not here to tinker at the edges of these problems,” said the Prime Minister.

“We are here to meet them head on.”

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Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis pledges to govern in the interests of all Bahamians

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#TheBahamas, September 19, 2021 – During his ceremonial swearing-in today as the nation’s fifth Prime Minister, Hon. Philip Davis pledged to govern in the interests of all Bahamians and to consult widely with the Bahamian people.

The best way to make progress as a nation is to bring people together, said Prime Minister Davis, who was presented with his instruments of Office in ceremonies held at the Baha Mar Convention Centre, on Saturday 18 September 2021.

Prime Minister Davis was officially sworn in as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas on Friday 17 September 2021 at the Office of the Governor General.

“We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, so that it’s not one rule for one set of people, and another for another set of people,” said the Prime Minister.

“There is much work to be done; but I know that by working together we can succeed and build the kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamed for us.”

Prime Minister Davis said that while there are big challenges ahead for The Bahamas, his team has the right vision and policies to take the country forward.

The Prime Minister said the new administration is coming into office at a time when the Bahamian people are hurting as never before.

The country faces many crises due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an economy in decline and deeply concerning challenges in education, said Prime Minister Davis.

If everyone works together towards a common purpose, in the common interest and for the common good, great things are possible for The Bahamas and its people, said the Prime Minister.

But no government can do great things on its own, Prime Minister Davis added.

“I am sure that my government can only succeed if we partner with the Bahamian people,” said the Prime Minister.
“We are going to listen, we are going to consult widely and we are going to bring people together.”

_
18 September 2021
Office of the Prime Minister
Commonwealth of The Bahamas
Contact: opmcommunications@bahamas.gov.bs
Website: opm.gov.bs

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