The Bahamas is well poised to becoming the world’s newest international aircraft registry, a move that holds “immeasurable long-term economic benefits,” according to a leading aviation attorney.
“The Bahamas is closer than ever to the establishment of the long sought-after Bahamas International Aircraft Registry,” said Llewellyn Boyer-Cartwright, a partner at Callenders & Co. law firm. “Last year the government passed the Civil Aviation Act, creating for the first time an independent Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA), separating regulation from operations oversight. Now we merely have to sign the Cape Town Convention which will provide the legal framework to govern and protect the rights of creditors and debtors over airframes, aircraft engines and helicopters (known as ‘aircraft objects’) whether they are leased or mortgaged.”
Boyer-Cartwright, a member of the Air Transport Advisory Board, has been at the forefront of the renewed push for an international aircraft registry first proposed by the Bahamas Financial Services Board. The BFSB presented government with a study it commissioned as early as 1999 with a subsequent study conducted in 2015/2016 which was to be presented to Cabinet for approval.
While The Bahamas has been in the planning stages for nearly 20 years, other jurisdictions have launched and skyrocketed.
“Isle of Man,” said Boyer-Cartwright, began consideration in 2005, launched in May, 2007, and within the first two days registered 25% of its projected target of 12 aircraft for the first year. “By the end of the first year they had registered 51 aircraft, four times what they had projected, and another 76 were added the next year. Every year since, they have added another 100 aircraft. By the end of 2017, they expect to have their 1000th registered aircraft.”
Isle of Man is now the sixth largest business aircraft register in the world – tapping into the same market Boyer-Cartwright thinks The Bahamas can capture. Guernsey registered $379 million in value in aircraft in its first year, said Boyer-Cartwright.
Three more jurisdictions opened global registries after Isle of Man – San Marino, Guernsey and Jersey. And two other major competitors in financial services, Bermuda and Cayman, have well-established and sophisticated registries. In November 2015, the Cape Town Convention was extended to The Cayman Islands and has further enhanced Cayman’s Registry as one of the world’s leading aircraft registries.
“It is not the fees that make a registry so valuable,” said Boyer-Cartwright, “An international aircraft registry can only further enhance our financial services portfolio and would allow someone who wants all of their assets to be managed or administered in one jurisdiction to do so in The Bahamas. Our competitors, particularly, Cayman and Bermuda, understand this and have enjoyed a sharpened competitive edge against The Bahamas and have experienced tremendous growth as a result of being able to provide the full range of high level services a high net worth individual requires.”
The registry can also generate a large network of entrepreneurial opportunities.
“The sky is literally the limit as to what a registry could unleash economically,” said Boyer-Cartwright. “You could create a business jet hub making it ideal for leasing and financing. An international aircraft registry ticks all the boxes – it can only improve our already competitive financial services industry. I remain ever committed to see this come to fruition.”