The airport revenue guarantee continues to adversely impact Bermuda’s taxpayers and Government coffers due to upward spiralling inflation that has afflicted global economies, particularly those of North America.
This according to Premier David Burt who highlighted the ongoing issue of subsidised payments being made to Skyport during a question and answer segment of the radio program, Insight, broadcast by Magic 102.7 on Sunday night.
Speaking in the capacity of both Premier and Minister of finance, Mr Burt explained how, as part of the contract agreed to by the former One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) government one vehemently opposed by the then Opposition Progressive Labour Party continues to distress the Government’s accounts payable, preventing the ability to garner revenue through taxation of incoming passengers at a time the economy can ill afford such capital expenditure.
One caller asked if Government’s long discontinued policy of subsidising airline seat capacity as a means of preserving airline service during off-peak periods was a major negative factor for continued low, stagnant air arrival figures, the Premier offered up the ongoing dormancy of the Southampton Princess, which is awaiting commencement of renovations by owner/developers, Gencom.
“Flights are a challenge, certainly for Bermuda,” offered Mr Burt. “And they are challenged quite simply and mainly because our hotels beds have decreased significantly with the closure of our largest hotel.
The government continues to work the diligently. We’ve done all of the things on our end we are working with the developers to finalize the matters that they have to do so that we can get the shovels in the ground, to hopefully see some relief in 2024.
“But what I would say is not just from the government of Bermuda’s perspective.
“I think that the caller would have seen the chaos in the United States over the holiday period.
“We do know that airlines, during the pandemic sent a lot of persons home, and are having difficulty coming back to full staffing.
“They have to rehire pilots rehire flight attendants, rebuild those networks. So I do believe we will see increased airlift in Bermuda next year, because that’s part of the reason.
“The thing is that people have to choose between one jurisdiction or another and this was a comment made to me by the former minister of transport, it does not matter if you’re giving them revenue guarantees, they (airlines) have more lucrative routes they may be able to fly.
“And so I think that we have to recognize that it is an extremely competitive market.”
The Royal Gazette recently reported how more than $30 million has been committed over the past four years by the Bermuda Tourism Authority in deals linked to sport and directed at increasing, predominately air arrivals.
However figures have remained sluggish and inferior to prior years, with third quarter figures for 2022 stating that 825 air visitors had travelled to the island for sporting events by the end of last September last year, an increase of from the 151 at the same point in 2021, but a decrease 65.6 per cent decrease on the pre-Covid figure of 2,401 in 2019.
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