The failed airline project was one under the former National Democratic Party (NDP) Government led by ex-Premier Smith to connect Miami and Tortola with direct flights however, despite $7.2M of taxpayer’s monies being injected, the project never bore fruit.
A release from the Government Information Service (GIS) said the ruling was handed down yesterday, May 14, 2021, where the Arbitrator rejected all claims made against the BVI Government by BV Airways Inc (“BVIA”) and Colchester Aviation LLC (“Colchester”), thus saving the Government from having to pay claims worth in excess $10M.
However, despite the $7.2M investment of taxpayer’s money still missing, for ex-Premier Smith, the arbitration ruling was enough for him to feel vindicated after what he called ‘a long hard fight’.
In a statement released last evening, May 13, 2021, Dr. Smith said "I am pleased that after retaining Martin Kenney and Associates in 2018 under my Administration to begin proceedings against BVI Airways that would lead to recovery of BVI Government funds, that the arbitration proceedings were successful with the Arbitrator finding in favour of Government.”
While Dr. Smith admitted that more legal battles will still have to come, he said the ruling however, shows that “in 2015 my administration acted in the best interest of the BVI in our efforts to introduce direct flights from the US to BVI.”
Dr. Smith further added that he is happy that Arbitrator found the then Government upheld their end of the arrangements, “and I now feel vindicated,” he said
Current Premier Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) as part of statements on the win called the arbitration ruling an important victory in a statement released yesterday, May 14, 2021.
While a counterclaim by the VI Government was also dismissed as part of the ruling, Premier Fahie said his government now intends to pursue the wrongdoers in the VI Courts to recover damages and losses suffered relating to the project.
Premier Fahie added, “I want to assure the people of the Virgin Islands that your Government will leave no stone unturned in its pursuit of the recovery of the sums paid to Colchester, BVIA, and individuals connected with those companies,” he said.
Meanwhile, on February 25, 2020, the Premier during a HoA sitting revealed that investigators at the fraud and asset recovery law firm of Martin Kenney & Co Solicitors (MKS) found that the two BAe Avro airplanes acquired in 2016 by BV Airways (BVA) for the BVI Airways Project were sold to the original supplier of the planes, Tronosjet of Prince Edward Island, Canada.
“These planes appear to have been resold in the market and are now being flown by operators based in Missoula, Montana and Australia," Premier Fahie stated in assuring that the recovery of the $7.2M monies will be aggressively pursued.