A foreign air carrier and its Barbadian-based tour company involved in a twice-weekly non-scheduled service between this country and Marguerita, are operating in this country illegally.
Director of Civil Aviation Michie Beckles and officials in the Ministry of International Transport told Barbados TODAY today, that no permission had been given to either entity to operate in such a manner.
One of the business partners of the tour company – Starline Travel Tours – who only gave her name as Judy, admitted that flights had just started and a second one was due on February 28.
She said the charter service was using two 19-seater Jetstream aircraft. The official also revealed that from May 1, four or five other islands in the Caribbean were due to be serviced by the charter.
“Judy” noted that the Barbados to Marguerita flights would be on Mondays and Fridays and will be non-stop. She said the return air fare was $870 and package tours are also in the works.
While conceding that the company had already been promoting the new fares, another business partner said they were not yet ready for “full blown” publicity, because all of their business partners were not in the island.
The partner, who did not give his name, however noted that certain logistical issues had to be completed before the firm could do a major public campaign.
But the Civil Aviation director Beckles made it clear to this newspaper, that his department has not given any airline or “anybody” permission to operate any charter or non-scheduled service between Barbados and Marguerita.
He explained that the only charter which has a licence to operate between this island and Venezuela, was a Venezuelan company which was representing Executive Air, a local business.
Beckles revealed that the contract for that was issued in October last year and expires in October this year, to ply the Barbados, St Vincent and Venezuela routes.
“No application for a charter or non-scheduled service for Barbados-Marguerita has been made to my department,” he insisted. He said the ministry of international transport has the power to shut down the tour operator.
“But then again, you can’t shut down something that does not exist; so the ministry will be taking the appropriate action to deal with them,” the Civil Aviation director asserted.
A senior official in the Ministry of International Transport also informed Barbados TODAY that the tour company was not registered to carry on its business in Barbados.
“They had made an application, but an application is not a licence; so they are operating outside of the law,” the public officer stated.