BVI Airways, based at the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island, has long had a troubled past. In January 2016, the BVI Government bailed it out with an investment of $7.2 million so that it could buy two British Aerospace Avro RJ100 aircraft for a direct non-stop service to Miami, Florida.
The government’s investment in the airline took the form of a written legal contract.
In July 2016, the airline reported a delay to commencing this service. In July 2017, the airline laid off all its staff citing cash shortages.
In November 2017, the Honourable Andrew A. Fahie, Opposition Leader and First District Representative, raised a question of the government in the House of Assembly. He asked the premier, Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL), Premier and Minister of Finance, “Where are the aircraft?” The Premier said he didn’t know.
In December 2017, the government served notice on the airline that it was in breach of contract.
On Thursday, March 1st, 2018, the Honourable Fahie again asked the government what it was doing about the aircraft and its investment. "It should not be a case now where the Premier is deciding how they are proceeding, it should be a Commission of Inquiry. This is the only way that I would advise the Attorney General to proceed, because you cannot have this amount of money out for so long and no solid questions being answered for it and tax payer's money gone", he said.
The Premier replied "Service was to be delivered by August 2017 and I am now in discussion with the Attorney General on the way to proceed since the service has not actually been delivered as yet”.
According to the Honourable Fahie:
"Research shows that the planes were sold. The aircraft have a registration number and I went and Googled through the Freedom of Information Act that VP-LOS was sold to Neptune Airways. So, did you receive any money for this sale?” he said.
Pathetically, the Premier could only reply "The location of the planes is still being researched."
At this time, it is not clear how many aircraft, one or two, were purchased by BVI Airways, or how many aircraft, one or two, were sold to Neptune Airways, or what happened to every cent of the $7.2 million.