Published On: Mon, Feb 9th, 2015

Aviation Director delaying new airline’s economic permit and Curaçao is in serious need of airlift

Oscar Derby

Oscar Derby

WILLEMSTAD – The aviation company AVA Airways applied for an economic permit in December 2013. This request is to operate scheduled and unscheduled air transport of passengers, cargo and mail. This permit is also necessary to start the process for the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC). AVA has already completed all of its manuals, which were cross referenced to Curaçao’s regulations. This means that the aviation company is ready for their AOC process.

The Curaçao Civil Aviation Authority (CCAA) headed by Oscar Derby, who was hired by the Minister of Transportation, Earl Balborda, responded to that request on May 22, 2014. It took the CCAA about five months to respond to AVA’s request. The law states that the government has to make a decision in about three months.

On August 21, 2014, the CCAA indicated, through a letter to the President of the company that based on article 6 paragraph 7 of the Ordinance Scheduled and Unscheduled Air Transport, they made use of the services of a third party, in this case the Government’s Accountants Foundation (SOAB), to obtain advice on the business plan of the aviation company.

SOAB then studied the business plan and requested clarification and explanation on several points mentioned in the plan. According to our source, AVA took 24 hours to respond to SOAB’s request.

After receiving AVA’s clarification and explanation to their points, SOAB gave three positive reviews. In the last review, SOAB stated that they didn’t see any problems or issues for AVA to be granted their economic permit.

According to our source, on January 12, 2015, more than a year after AVA request, the CCAA asked for information on the intended funding and finances of the aviation company. According to the CCAA, this was advised by the SOAB. Our source in the Netherlands indicated that SOAB advised this only after the CCAA has signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with AVA. CCAA said in their letter that they will not sign the NDA. Nevertheless, AVA’s Investment Group proceeded to send a letter directly to the Minister of Transportation.

On January 28, 2015 the SOAB once again gave positive review of AVA’s business plan. They also indicated that they are done with their work and that it is up to CCAA and the Department of Transportation to grant the permit.

This has not been done yet. The Director of the CCAA, Mr. Derby constantly implies that the SOAB is the decision maker. SOAB clearly stated in their last letter that the CCAA and the Minister are the ones authorized to grant the permit.

We want to know why Mr. Derby is delaying the granting of AVA’s economic permit. We found out, through our source in the Netherlands, that Mr. Derby applied to become CEO of AVA Airways in early 2013. He is familiar with this company. We also learned that the Board of the aviation company did not hire Mr. Derby as the CEO. This could be a reason why Mr. Derby is boycotting the aviation company. We asked Mr. Derby about this, and he indicated to us that he was told to submit his resume. We then asked AVA Airways to comment and they did not want to do so. This proves though that Derby had a relation with the company.

Another reason could be that AVA’s business plan indicates they will use modern airplanes such as Airbus 320 and CS100. This makes the certification process very complicated for the CCAA. The CCAA does not have inspectors who are capable of certifying these types of aircrafts.

Whatever the reason is, it has to be fixed as soon as possible. After the bankruptcy of the Dutch Antilles Express (DAE), Curaçao is in serious need of more airlift. The Minister needs to act.

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