Passenger without transit visa returned to Dominican Republic
A passenger on a direct flight from the Dominican Republic to Bermuda was turned away for not having a transit visa.
The deportation comes after months of disagreement between promoters of the airline and the Government about whether such a visa is actually needed and only weeks after an order was issued clarifying the need for transit visas and a list was published of passports requiring these visas.
The woman was scheduled to travel from Santo Domingo Las Americas Airport to LF Wade International Airport on August 13 on TXKF Direct, a new charter airline formed to carry passengers on direct flights to Bermuda from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
According to her itinerary, she was booked on Flight 102, scheduled to take off at 11am from Santo Domingo and arrive in Bermuda at 2.30pm. She was to return home in November.
The Royal Gazette spoke with the passenger’s sister, who wished to remain anonymous.
Lawrence Scott, chief executive of ScottsCraft, the parent company of TXKF Direct, confirmed that a passenger was forced to return home early — and was put on the arriving aircraft on its flight back to the destination — due to the lack of a proper visa.
The Bermuda Immigration and Protection (Prohibition of Entry) Order was enacted just days before the woman’s flight arrived. The order requires a US, British or Canadian transit visa for travellers from 115 countries, clarifying existing practice.
The Dominican Republic is one of the countries on the list.
A transit visa is needed so that a passenger can return to their home country if necessary via a country that has regular and direct flights to Bermuda. Without a transit visa, a person without visa-free access to the US, Canada or Britain could get stuck in Bermuda.
Mr Scott, a Progressive Labour Party backbencher, said: “In 48 hours, authorities implemented and enforced this order that changes the ability for persons to be landed.
“Passengers on our flight get denied, while passengers on other air carriers are landing.
“All we are trying to do is reunite families and bring visitors into the island to benefit our country and economy. All we are asking is to be treated fairly, like every other airline.”
Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour, said: “Visas are not a perfect solution to the problem of border security but they are an essential tool that governments can use to protect their borders and citizens.”
The Royal Gazette reached out to the Ministry of Economy and Labour for comment, but did not receive a response by press time.