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Air carrier operations

Operating authorisation

What procedural and documentary requirements must air carriers meet in order to operate in your jurisdiction?

The procedural and documentary requirements for air carriers to operate in the Bahamas depend on the nature of the operation requested by the carrier. Types of operation include scheduled journeys and non-scheduled journeys. Licence granting for scheduled journeys – including short-term and provisional licences – and permits for non-scheduled journeys are governed by Part XII of the Civil Aviation Act 2016 and applicable regulations including the Civil Aviation (Licensing of Air Services) Regulations. Foreign air carriers must be registered in a state which has an air services agreement or other special arrangement with the Bahamas in order to be granted a licence to operate in the Bahamas.

Air transport licence applications must be made to the minister of tourism and aviation and are processed by the Department of Air Transport Licensing. Applications are made in writing on prescribed forms and should be accompanied by:

  • a certificate of insurance;
  • a certificate of airworthiness;
  • a certificate of registration;
  • a lease agreement or bill of sale, where applicable;
  • details of proposed time tables and rates (eg, freight, air mail conveyance, baggage allowance and excess baggage fees);
  • a letter from the registered owner of the relevant aircraft;
  • a copy of the authorised areas of operation from the operator’s or air carrier’s operations specifications; and
  • details of the air carrier’s principal inspector.

An air operator’s certificate must be issued to the applicant by its home government and (as a general rule) the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA). Having been vetted by an air services licensing officer, applications are considered by the Air Transport Advisory Board, before whom the applicant and its local representative will appear. The board will make a recommendation to the minister of tourism and aviation as regards the application. The minister will then make a final determination on the application.

Ownership and control

Do any nationality or other requirements or restrictions apply to ownership or control of air carriers operating in your jurisdiction?

A Bahamian air operator must provide adequate proof that it is a Bahamian national or body which is incorporated under Bahamas law and owned and effectively controlled by Bahamian nationals. A foreign air carrier must be registered in a state which has an air services agreement or other special arrangement with the Bahamas in order to be granted a licence to operate in the Bahamas. In order for an air carrier to be able to operate in the Bahamas, the minister of tourism and aviation must be satisfied that the applicant is competent and a fit and proper person to operate aircraft for the purposes for which the licence is requested. This is determined by the applicant’s:

  • experience;
  • financial resources;
  • competence to ensure that the aircraft will be safely operated;
  • ability to provide satisfactory equipment; and
  • organisation and staffing arrangements.

Financial requirements

What financial thresholds must air carriers meet to obtain operating authorisation?

There are no prescribed financial thresholds which air carriers must meet in order to obtain operation authorisation. However, the minister of tourism and aviation must be satisfied that the operator has sufficient financial resources to operate the relevant aircraft safely.

Insurance coverage

What is the required level of insurance coverage for air carrier operations?

No prescribed level of insurance coverage exists for air carrier operations.

Safety requirements

What safety requirements apply to air carrier operations, including with regard to professional and technical certifications?

Safety requirements are addressed in the Civil Aviation (General) Regulations 2017. These regulations include a series of schedules which prescribe a broad range of safety-related requirements in detail, including, but not limited to:

  • personnel licensing;
  • aircraft operations;
  • aircraft requirements;
  • flight crew requirements;
  • crewmember duties and responsibilities; and
  • aviation personnel qualifications.

The schedules provide specific technical safety requirements in support of the Civil Aviation (General) Regulations to ensure that operations in the Bahamas meet the international standards for aviation safety regarding:

  • personnel licensing;
  • aircraft operations in general aviation;
  • aircraft registration;
  • aircraft maintenance; and
  • aerial work and commercial air transport activities.

Schedule 20 makes specific provisions for safety oversight of foreign operators into the Bahamas.

Section 26 of the Civil Aviation Act provides that every aircraft operator (both domestic and foreign) operating within the Bahamas must establish and maintain an aircraft operator security programme approved in writing by the BCAA, and must not operate without or contrary to an approved aircraft operator security programme. The security programme must provide adequate procedures, training, contingency planning and other measures to protect the security of aircraft, air crews and passengers before and during flight operations. It must also comply with the national civil aviation security training programme and any model aircraft operator security programme provided by the BCAA for adoption and use by aircraft operators.

Environmental obligations

What environmental obligations apply to air carrier operations?

The functions of the BCAA include overseeing the functioning and development of the air transport and civil aviation industry in an environmentally friendly and competitive manner. Schedule 20(20.070) of the Civil Aviation (General) Regulations provides that no foreign person or entity may operate an aircraft in the Bahamas unless that aircraft is:

  • carrying on the flight deck a noise certificate or equivalent document issued by the State of Registry in conformity with Annex 16 of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO); and
  • operated in conformity with any limitations specified in the issuance of that noise certificate.

Air traffic control

How are air traffic control services regulated in your jurisdiction?

Air traffic control services are regulated under the Civil Aviation Act and the Civil Aviation (General) Regulations. The Civil Aviation Act provides for the establishment of an independent division known as the Bahamas Air Navigation Services Division (BANSD). The division is headed by a director of air navigation services, who reports directly to the BCAA board and operates autonomously from the BCAA’s regulatory oversight divisions. Its sole objective is the provision of air navigation facilities and services. Generally, air traffic services are administered with regard to Annex 11 of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation. As a contracting state of the ICAO, the Bahamas is obligated to follow the requirements of Annex 1 of the Chicago Convention, which deals with personnel licensing. Air traffic controllers must meet certain medical fitness, age, knowledge and experience requirements in order to be granted ratings, which allow them to perform their duties.

Routes

Do any licensing requirements apply to specific routes?

Part II of the the Civil Aviation (Licensing of Air Services) Regulations sets out provisions for scheduled journey licences. Schedule 20 of the the Civil Aviation (General) Regulations provides that no foreign person or operator may conduct commercial air transport operations involving cabotage between aerodromes in the Bahamas, and no foreign person or air operator may conduct commercial air transport operations from an aerodrome in a foreign country to and from aerodromes in the Bahamas unless those operations are authorised by the BCAA and accord with the ‘five freedoms’ specified in the International Air Transit Agreement or as provided in applicable bilateral agreements. Further, foreign carriers may land in the Bahamas only at designated ports of entry.

Are any public service obligations in place with respect to remote destinations?

Regulation 8(3)(b) of the Civil Aviation (Licensing of Air Services) Regulations provides that licence holders must perform all reasonable services required either by the postmaster general with regard to the conveyance of mails or any persons who may be in charge thereof, on journeys made under the licence.

Charter services

Do any special provisions apply to charter services?

Part III of the Civil Aviation (Licensing of Air Services) Regulations sets out provisions for permits for non-scheduled journeys. Generally, cabotage rules apply to operations of licenced foreign carriers in the Bahamas. Further, foreign carriers may land in the Bahamas only at designated ports of entry.

Taxes

What taxes apply to the provision of air carrier services?

No taxes apply to the provision of air carrier services. Licence and permit fees are provided for under the Civil Aviation (Licensing of Air Services) Regulations.

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