NASSAU, The Bahamas – The government has signed what is being called a ‘landmark’ document on behalf of the country. The Ministry of Transport and Aviation signed a ‘Declaration of Intent on Flight Information Region’ (FIR) with the United States via the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The government also signed a second document – a Radar Data Sharing partnership.
The ceremony was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Immigration at the Goodman’s Bay Corporate Centre, March 22, 2017.
During the signing ceremony, Minister of Transport and Aviation, the Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin said the signing signals ‘maturation of a sovereign country’ as it relates to its aviation sector. The Bahamas gained sovereignty over its geographical airspace when it gained Independence in 1973, however, the FAA has continued to manage and control this airspace as part of its Flight Information Region, under arrangements that predate independence.
“The signing of these documents is a culmination of a journey that started a while back. This is also a significant intervention for domestic travel in the country,” said the Minister.
She said that the documents formalize arrangements between two sovereign states and also point to the beginning of a ‘larger dialogue’ between The Bahamas and the United States.
The new FIR means that the Bahamas will be able to manage its own airspace after a 10-year arrangement with the FAA, which would be economically beneficial to the country. The FAA will be paid for providing air traffic management services during this period as the country builds capacity in the sector.
Discussions between the FAA and representatives of the Bahamas Government over the management and control of the upper levels of The Bahamas’ airspace began in earnest with the first round of talks held in 2014 and the last meeting taking place in Miami in mid-December.
As part of the deal, all Bahamian aircraft operators will be exempt from paying over flight fees to the FAA on flights that take off and land in The Bahamas. The exemption, which took place earlier this year, will translate into significant savings for local aircraft operators, including Bahamasair.
The second document – the Radar Data Sharing agreement – will replace the former one-sided relationship with the FAA, and will now feature a mutual sharing arrangement with the United States.
Just last week, the government announced the plan to install four new Doppler radars throughout the country.
Also speaking during the press conference were: Sir Baltron Bethel, Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister, and Carey Fagan, Executive Director for International Affairs, FAA. Ms. Fagan was the signatory for the FAA.
By Betty Vedrine
Bahamas Information Services