BEEF ISLAND, British Virgin Islands, Wednesday May 3, 2017 – The privately-owned, government-backed BVI Airways is a major step closer to taking off to the United States, following approval from the US Department of Transportation (DOT).
A notice from the DOT last Friday said the airline has been given a one-year exemption to the requirement for a foreign air carrier permit, following operational approval from the United Kingdom’s regulatory agency, Air Safety Support International.
However, BVI Airways will still have to get permission from the US Federal Aviation Administration and the US Transportation Security Administration to schedule flights.
Two other airlines doing business in the Virgin Islands, VI Airlink and InterCaribbean Airways, had objected to BVI Airways’ application on the grounds that they never received a copy of it, and that government’s support of the airline would put them at a competitive disadvantage. They also questioned the accuracy of the ownership structure BVI Airways stated in its application.
However, the DOT said the objections were insufficient to warrant the withholding of authorization.
“We note that the applicant served its application in accordance with the appropriate Department procedural rules, and thus find no merit in the assertions of the objecting carriers regarding improper service. With respect to the concerns of the objecting carriers with the record as to BVI Airways’ ownership structure, we find that the record presented sufficient clarity for us to proceed on the application,” it said.
“Finally, with regard to the competition issue, we see no persuasive basis to withhold authority for the introduction of these new services, particularly taking into account the strong support for approval of the application submitted by the BVI government.”
The previously bankrupt BVI Airways got a US$7 million bailout from the National Democratic Party government.
The revamped airline plans a non-stop service from Beef Island to Miami International Airport on its two 85-seater AVRO RJ 100s, four days a week.