Department of Information & Public Relations
The BVI Airports Authority (the Authority) wishes to advise the travelling public that airports in the Territory have resumed normal operations at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 27, following a brief closure.
Managing Director Mr. Kurt Menal said that the airports were forced to close after the Authority could not satisfy the minimum requirement in staffing levels to ensure continuous operations of the Control Tower in accordance with applicable regulations. The Control Tower operations is regulated by OTAR 172.
Mr. Menal added that upon realising that the Authority was unable to satisfy this requirement, the Management and Operations teams immediately met to develop an operational contingency plan to allow operations to continue which was only possible through 1:00 pm on Friday.
Chairman of the Board of Directors Mr. Theodore E. Burke apologised for the inconvenience caused to the travelling public by the disruption. He said that upon being informed of the imminent closure of the airports, the Board of Directors immediately convened an emergency meeting to reassure the management team that the board is fully committed to supporting any and all efforts to return the airport to fully operational status.
He added that the Board of Directors is mindful and understands the national importance of the airport to the Territory and recognises that many business operations, family plans and lives would have been affected during the temporary closure.
The board approached the situation with an open mind and launched a full investigation into any possible causes of the operational issues faced. A team from the Control Tower and the Operations Department attended the board meeting where they assisted in fine tuning the operational contingency plan to ensure that future occurrences of this nature do not actualize. The meeting was also attended by the Minster of Communications & Works and the Financial Secretary who is the Sole Shareholder of the Authority.
Minister of Communications and Works, Honourable Kye M. Rymer said that it was imperative for the Ministry to be represented at the meeting to assure the team of the full support and commitment of his Ministry and by extension the Government of the Virgin Islands to collectively and holistically identify and eradicate any potential operational issues at the Authority that may result in complications on a national level.
The Minister joined with the Chairman and apologises to the public for the domino effect of issues caused as a result of the temporary closure.
Honourable Rymer said, "While I recognise the many challenges faced today, I am pleased to report that there was no industrial action taken by the staff at our Air Traffic Control Tower and the issues faced were as a result of the Authority’s inability to satisfy a regulatory requirement with regards to staffing levels. Issues that they have been addressing at all levels on an ongoing basis to ensure a permanent solution"
He added, "We are indeed blessed with a team of Air Traffic Controllers that are dedicated, passionate and fully committed to their careers and the stability and growth of the VI’s economy."
Honourable Rymer commended the team on the exemplary services they provide to the Territory and reassured them of the commitment of the Government of the Virgin Islands in supporting the Authority and the Air Traffic Control Unit.
Sole Shareholder and Financial Secretary, Mr. Jeremiah Frett highlighted that no efforts will be speared to ensure that the airports provide entrances to the Virgin Islands while being a gateway to the rest of the world. He added that as the shareholder, he is fully committed to supporting all efforts to ensure that its mission, vision and core values are exercised at all times.
The Authority is currently undergoing a recruitment drive which will increase the manpower within the Air Traffic Control Unit but will continue to deliver exemplary aviation services in the interim while upholding its motto of 'Safety is our #1 Priority.'