Commercial airspace plan in early stages Transport Minister
Government is still in the early stages of looking into taking control of Bermuda’s commercial airspace, according to Transport Minister Derrick Burgess.
He told a press conference yesterday that everything had a planning stage and the idea was presently at “step one”.
He said step two would be to talk to the Governor and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US. Premier Paula Cox revealed the plan in her Budget statement on Friday.
She said: “Over the medium term, Government will develop other revenue streams, including the possibility of a public-private partnership to generate additional revenue from Bermuda’s commercial airspace.
“The revenue potential could reach $18 million per annum by 2017, based on user fees assessed on flight paths through our commercial airspace.”
Mr Burgess said the Department of Airport Operations was taking the lead on looking into the feasibility of “assuming operational control of our country’s airspace”.
“An initial cost-benefit analysis has been carried out and it suggests that this is indeed a viable opportunity to pursue,” added the Deputy Premier.
“Early estimates suggest that it would require an investment of $25 to $30 million over the course of several years, while generating an equal amount of revenue over a far shorter period. Again, these are early estimates.
“Many countries around the world, including some of our island neighbours to our south, have assumed sovereign responsibility for their airspace, while others are in the planning process to do so.
“For Bermuda, there is still much work to do, many meetings to be held, and many questions to be answered.”
FAA spokeswoman Alison Duquette told
The Royal Gazette: “The FAA is not in discussions with the Government of Bermuda regarding airspace issues.
“The FAA has provided en route and approach control air traffic services since 1995, per an agreement with the United Kingdom. Any questions about Bermuda’s budget and future revenue plans should be directed to the Government of Bermuda.”
Maryse Durette, spokeswoman for Transport Canada, which is responsible for the country’s transportation policies and programmes, said: “Transport Canada has not been approached by Bermuda to discuss this initiative.
Charging user fees for air navigation services is consistent with international practice. Additional questions regarding this matter should be addressed to the Government of Bermuda.”
Yesterday’s press conference on the Ministry of Transport’s budget for 2012/13 also heard about plans for a small branch of Bermuda’s Department of Maritime Administration to open in Southampton, England, at a cost of $266,000.
One of the aims would be to increase the Island’s shipping registry, which currently has 168 vessels.
Mr Burgess said the office would be manned by one senior marine surveyor, who would be the primary contact for technical matters on Bermuda-registered vessels calling at UK and European ports, and there would be an expected increase in revenue of $200,000.
“This initiative is twofold, as the UK-based surveyor will provide surveying and customer relationship services for our European clients, augmenting existing Bermuda-based services, and also provide the foundation to implement the growth strategy for increased revenues.”
The Minister said the Island’s register of aircraft was expected to expand from 653 to about 700 by the end of March next year, bringing in more revenue for Government.
Mr Burgess touched on improvements taking place at the airport to comply with international standards and said $2.3 million had been allocated over the next five years for work on the Ferry Reach end of the runway.
He was asked about the possibility of Town Cut being widened to allow large cruise ships to visit St George. Mr Burgess said it would cost about $50 million, adding: “We certainly don’t have that type of money to invest down there.”
“Personally, I’m not for cutting it,” he added. “I’m not for that. We are still trying to get a smaller ship. I think there are about 19 new ships under construction and only one is a smaller one.
“We still try to pursue smaller ships to come here but we have not been very successful.”
The Ministry of Transport’s overall budget for 2012/13 is $79.5 million, with estimated revenue of $77.1 million.
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