Hon Donna Banks “Access Tsar” of
But then I read on: “Hon Banks spoke about certain guarantees which the Anguilla Government were expected to meet in accordance with the new flight arrangements to the island.” Oh-oh – this sounds expensive, I thought.
I continued to read: “Replying to a question, Ms Banks said that the start of the service was being promoted for February 14 and it was hoped that Kirby Hodge would be in a position to secure the necessary finances for the aircraft. It is understood that such a 1900 D Turboprop Beechcraft would cost in the region of three million US dollars.”
Now the article really had my attention – How was Mr. Hodge going to find financing in today’s current economic climate? And, US$3 million for a turboprop plane? Sounds pretty expensive to me. And, service starting in one month when there is no financing, FAA clearance, insurance – not even a plane?
I thought I’d better investigate.
It turns out that the press release was only what the public was being told – there was actually a “secret” committee sending out “secret” emails that told a totally different story. At a board meeting on 13 January, after suitable prayers for direction by
According to the plan, Cap Juluca, CuisinArt, Viceroy, and Island Dream Properties will pay the lion’s share of financing this private airline. But, restaurants and “allied members” will too.
It is appropriate for a number of questions to be asked in these very difficult times. Aircraft are being repossessed left and right. What is the great urgency in grabbing this wonderful offer before someone else does? Why the pressure for an instant decision? Why not just lease an aircraft instead of purchasing one?
And, why give this "no bid" contract and revenue to a Charlotte Amalie company? Would it not be better for all of us to give the contract to a locally based business? That would keep the revenue as well as all the ancillary support business for ourselves.
Even if Rainbow is a great option, should not the members of the AHTA be given the opportunity to explore all options before the Access Tsar presents them with a fait accomplis and literally hands them the pen to sign on the dotted line?
Why try to mortgage all the little hotels in
How is Kirby Hodge going to get financing for a venture like this when no one else is getting financing for anything? How is he going to get the ‘plane purchased, insured, FAA clearances, and landing and gate clearances in 30 days for a February 14 start up? If they are lucky, by the time this is all set up, the season will be over.
And, what happens when in one month’s time American Eagle says, “We are adding two more flights to
Does the Tourist Board think that setting up a service like this is like buying a used car? You just get a licence and off you go? What have they been smoking?
Even if it was a private enterprise, with no backing from anyone, these ventures take years to show a profit. Does Donna really think there will be 38 people just waiting to get on this ‘plane’s two flights? And, that the same thing will be repeated every day, for ever? And,
Has ExCo already approved this initiative?
Is there pressure to announce the service, which does not yet exist, at the upcoming
Posts on various
Two postings on Anguilla Guide indicate that at least they are not taking people’s money. So, Islander posts, “Has anyone actually booked seats on Rainbow at the above rates? I am hearing conflicting stories about the reality of this new service?” Then, Beach Court Villa posts, “With great anticipation, I contacted Rainbow International Airways to purchase seats for the SJU-AXA legs. To my great disappointment, the hoped-for start date of around February 12, 2009 will not be realised. No one there would venture to estimate a new start date, which leads me to fear that it is quite some way off. What a shame for the owners and for all of us whose schedules have been so disrupted by AA and AE.”
All I can say is, this seems to me like a disaster waiting to happen.
But, according to Ms Banks, this is all secret. It is not for “public consumptions [sic]” by persons other than those designated to be on the committee.
Maybe, this will all come out when we get our new Freedom of Information Act?