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What rules govern the ownership of airports (both public and private)?
Airport ownership in the Bahamas is governed by the Airport Authority Act and the Civil Aviation Act 2016 (in particular Part VII). The Section 2 of the Airport Authority Act, as amended by Section 3 of the Airport Authority (Amendment) Act 2016, provides that certain airports specified in Schedules 1 and 3 of the Airport Authority Act must be transferred to the Airport Authority. Section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act provides that no person can construct or prepare to construct any private aerodrome in the Bahamas without prior written permission from the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA).
What is the authorisation procedure for the operation of airports?
Established under Section 3 of the Airport Authority Act, the Airport Authority is responsible for the management, maintenance and operations of several airports, which are transferred to it under the act. This includes providing aircraft ground handling services and airport security.
As regards private airports, Section 36 of the Civil Aviation Act provides that no person can operate or permit operation on land that he or she occupies of any aerodrome which is not registered in accordance with the section. Applications for registering an aerodrome under the section are made in writing to the BCAA by or on behalf of the occupier of the land on which the aerodrome is constructed. The BCAA may register the aerodrome on such terms and condition as it sees fit, and may also require an aerodrome used for commercial air transport operations to be licensed or certified in accordance with regulations made by the minister for transport and aviation or in accordance with standards and requirements imposed by the BCAA.
What ongoing operating requirements apply (including obligations relating to safety, security and facilities maintenance)?
Under Section 21(1) of the Civil Aviation Act, the BCAA must meet all of the requirements specified in Annex 17 (Security) of the Convention on International Civil Aviation. Accordingly, its duties and powers include:
- developing, evaluating and revising a national civil aviation security programme (NCASP);
- providing oversight of security operations at aerodromes operated by the Airport Authority and at other registered, licensed or certifed aerodromes as the authority determines; and
- approving aviation security programmes and related contingency plans for aerodrome operators.
Section 25 of the Civil Aviation Act provides that an aerodrome operator in the Bahamas must establish and maintain an aerodrome security programme (ASP) approved in writing by the BCAA and must not operate without or contrary to an approved ASP. BCAA-approved ASPs must provide adequate security protection of the aerodrome, aircraft and navigation facilities and comply with applicable NCASP requirements. Section 28 of the Civil Aviation Act provides for the creation of a national civil aviation security committee, which must coordinate the implementation of the NCASP at all aerodromes in the Bahamas.
What airport charges apply and how are they regulated?
Section 6 of the Airport Authority Act, as amended by Section 5 of the Airport Authority Amendment Act, provides that the Airport Authority has as part of its functions the setting of fees and charges for airports in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organisation recommendations and the collection of aeronautical and non-aeronautical fees and charges.
Airport charges include:
- landing fees;
- aircraft parking fees;
- airport loading bridge fees;
- terminal fees;
- passenger facility charges;
- security fees; and
- passenger processing fees.
The imposition and varying of fees and charges are regulated by the Airport Authority (Fees and Charges) Regulations 2009.
What regulations govern access to airports?
Under Section 25 of the Civil Aviation Act, aerodrome operators in the Bahamas must establish and maintain an ASP approved in writing by the BCAA. The APS must adequately provide for security protection of the aerodrome in compliance with the NCASP, including the programme’s requirement for access control for persons and vehicles and the control and issuance of aerodrome security passes and vehicle passes. Section 41 of the Civil Aviation Act provides that, where appropriate notices are posted, a person who trespasses on land forming part of a government aerodrome or an aerodrome registered, licensed or certified pursuant to regulations made under the act commits an offence, will be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months (or both if deemed appropriate).
What regime governs the allocation of airport slots (including slot transfer, revocation and disputes)?
No formal regime governs the allocation of airport slots. Existing airport capacities are considered adequate to meet the demands of users.
How are ground handling services regulated?
Under Section 6 of the Airport Authority Act, as amended by Section 5 of the Airport Authority (Amendment) Act, the functions of the Airport Authority include establishing provisions for aircraft ground handling services on a commercial basis. However, there are no Bahamian ground handling regulations.
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