Air registry aims to add to $27m revenue
Bermuda’s aircraft registry could expand even further — increasing the $27 million a year it already collects from clients.
Thomas Dunstan, director of the new Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority, said: “It’s a very significant revenue stream for the Government.
“And there is potential for growth as well — the Government sees this as a good venture to be in as far as diversity of our economy goes.”
Mr Dunstan was speaking after he delivered the keynote address at the Offshore Aircraft Registration Summit, held at the Hamilton Princess yesterday and today.
Mr Dunstan said that the island, with 750 aircraft on its registry, was the tenth largest in the world.
He added: “As we grow, 750 aircraft on our register is a significant number. The US has thousands of aircraft on its registry, from small two-seaters to commercial aircraft, but it’s quite significant for a jurisdiction like Bermuda.”
And Mr Dunstan said: “It could be as big as Bermuda wants it to be if we invest in it.”
But he warned: “The more aircraft we have, the higher the risk of accidents, which have a detrimental effect on our credibility.”
He added that playing host to the conference, the sixth of its kind and the first time it has been held in Bermuda, was a positive for the island.
Mr Dunstan said: “It’s worthwhile for Bermuda to have this here — we’re a huge player in aviation globally and to hold this in Bermuda is good because it brings people to the island and also highlights we are one of the leaders in this industry.”
The conference, held at the Hamilton Princess, attracted around 100 delegates from the UK, US, the Caribbean and Europe.
Mr Dunstan said: “Even though we are seen as competitors, we also need to be discussing issues and challenges and these are things we all face.
“We have to ensure that safety is paramount because an accident in one jurisdiction could affect us all.”
Earlier, Mr Dunstan told delegates that Bermuda’s aviation history dated back to just after First World War, when a visiting US Navy ship flew its plane over the island.
He added that the conference was particularly exciting as it marked a change from Government’s Department of Civil Aviation to the arms-length quango of the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority.
Mr Dunstan said: “We need to be able to react and be proactive with the environment we work in. The great thing is we are able to reduce expenditure by coming out of the Government ... but we are also able to give some revenue back to the government.”
He added that more than 80 per cent of the fleet of planes registered in Bermuda were commercial aircraft that operate elsewhere in the world.
The Bermuda registry has a satellite office in London, as well as a network of qualified inspectors it can call on around the world.
He said: “By having inspectors globally, it allows us to be more responsive to our clients and reduce costs.”
And he added that aircraft owners and companies that leased them found that resale values were maintained by having aircraft registered in a jurisdiction that has “a solid reputation for being safe and well-regulated”, while Bermuda could also offer tax advantages and was backed by the respected UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch, which carried out probes on behalf of Bermuda.
Mr Dunstan said: “We are customer orientated, responsive and pragmatic with a lot of experience.
“But we must not let the opportunity for profits affect our judgment and decision-making. We must retain the good reputation of our offshore registries and the benefits they bring to global aviation — and there are many.”
Michael Dunkley, the Premier, opened the conference and said: “We are seen, in my opinion, as one of the leading aircraft registries in the world and that is an impressive feat for Bermuda.”
He added that air travel was closely linked to Bermuda’s other industries of international business, financial services and tourism and was crucial to the economy.
Mr Dunkley told delegates: “We see this as a necessary and timely conference because we believe there is significant value in us working together to not only grow and develop this important industry sector — but to find mutually beneficial opportunities to further our success.”
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