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Senate: air fees increase approved

A hike in Bermuda’s departure fees for air travellers has been approved by the Senate over Opposition misgivings.

It came as Finance Minister Bob Richards told The Royal Gazette that a “go or no-go decision” would be made in the coming weeks on the deal to build a new terminal for LF Wade International Airport.

The increase raises the maximum total departure tax to $78, including a $16 airport improvement fee, despite the tax already being raised from $35 to $50 earlier this year.

The Bermuda Air Terminal Fees Amendment will place the extra funds into an escrow account to be used for airport maintenance.

Independent senator James Jardine, signalling his support, noted the “scary” condition of the terminal, which flooded during last October’s hurricanes. The move was also backed by independent senator Joan Dillas-Wright.

However, Progressive Labour Party senators Renee Ming and Marc Daniels disputed the need for the legislation, with Sen Ming saying it would hamper the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s efforts to increase air arrivals.

Sen Daniels pointed to the Island’s already high costs, and suggested that the increases were aimed at sweetening the airport redevelopment deal for the potential developers.