Beautiful views in the Bahamas (photo by Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon)
Government officials in The Bahamas said they are working with airlines in the United States to overcome legal challenges claiming the island nation is overcharging for access to its international airspace.
According to Eyewitness News Bahamas, Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper said the issue was a “misunderstanding” and would work with U.S. carriers “to ensure we come to an understanding that is in the best interest of our country.”
“We value the contribution of our partners as it relates to aviation and tourism in The Bahamas,” Cooper said.
The complaint was levied by the Airlines for America (A4A) group, which is accusing the Bahamian government of charging “astronomical” and “unreasonable” overflight fees, which it claims violates the Air Transport Agreement (ATA) between the Bahamas and the U.S.
A4A officials believe the island nation is overcharging for air navigation services, which “exceed the cost of providing those services.” As a result, representatives from the top U.S. airlines believe there is a violation of Article 10 of the US-Bahamas ATA.
Cooper released a full statement on the situation to Eyewitness News Bahamas:
“We consider the airless to be partners. We are working with them in a consultative process to ensure we come to an understanding that is in the best interest of our country. We maintain that there was a consultation on the roll-out of the overflight charging system. There was concurrence with ICAOO which is the regulatory body for aviation internationally.”
“There is now a misunderstanding. This will be resolved through dialogue with the airlines, through diplomacy but also we will respond appropriately through legal means to the actual complaints. There are two prongs to our approach; direct consultation with the airlines and secondly a legal response. We have retained local and US consul and we are confident that we will come to a resolution that is in the best interest of the Bahamian people. Let me just say that we assert our right to manage and charge for the use of our sovereign airspace. We will comply with the international standard of doing so with transparency and fairness and with a consultation.”
“The airlines are our partners and we have enjoyed a significantly positive relationship with them, particularly over the past year. We have seen a significant increase in the airlift. Aviation and tourism work hand in hand. I am confident that all will be well.”
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