According to IJet Charters CEO, Jim Swieter, government inaction has grounded the company’s sea plane venture. The sea plane, billed as a direct flight from Ft Lauderdale to the Abaco Inn harbour in Elbow Cay, had already run its inaugural flight and received international publicity.
Despite receiving verbal confirmation from government officials, IJet and the company operating the Sea Plane, Tropic Ocean Airways, were never able to get the paperwork signed by government to proceed fully.
Tropic Ocean Airways has been operating in The Bahamas for several years, notably operating a regular service into Bimini.
“I was taking all the risk financially. All they had to do was sign a piece of paper backing up what was verbally approved to me,” Mr. Swieter said.
Mr. Swieter continued saying that the company, “spent a lot of money getting this put together, then total silence.”
On Jan 25, 2014 the inaugural flight into Elbow Cay was greeted by Customs, Immigration and Ministry of Tourism officials.
After this approved, and warmly greeted, initial run into Elbow Cay, Tropic Ocean & IJet were gearing up to run regular flights directly onto the Abaco Inn beach from Ft. Lauderdale. However after this, according to the IJet CEO, “No communication or updates ever happened.”
IJet had additional plans to provide more airlift into Abaco via other routes. But with the lack of communication this opportunity passed. According to Mr. Swieter, “[We] had other plans to move land-based aircraft in and start flying to the out islands, but after this I have no drive to make that happen.”
Mr. Swieter concluded his thoughts about revisiting the possible flight by saying, “Never again. I know a lot of people in the US airline business and this is why so many of them have concerns about flying to The Bahamas.”
Tyrone Sawyer, Director of Airlift Development in the Ministry of Tourism, told The Abaconian, “We are still seeking to secure final approval for the Tropic Ocean Airways service which has taken longer than expected.”