Features
January 17, 2014
Vincy Aviation Services – evolving despite challenges

Vincy Aviation Services (VAS) has catapulted itself into becoming one of the leading fuel providers for private jets that visit St Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

Since coming into being 13 years ago, VAS has managed to evolve in unimaginable ways, despite some challenges along the way.

Before 2007, the company’s greatest achievement was providing ground handling for Caribbean Star and Caribbean Sun airlines. However, after those airlines’ operations halted, it was evident that changes had to be made.

“The company has evolved since 2007, after Caribbean Star went out of business. We had to make a lot of changes and so, we found ourselves putting more emphasis on the FBO (fixed based operation) business and cargo,” manager Ricardo Drayton told SEARCHLIGHT.

Shortly after that disappointment, the company, doing business as Caribbean Aviation Management, demonstrated its knack for adapting, and established a partnership in Canouan for the handling of high end private jets. Later, they bought the fuel business operating on the island, from Shell Aviation, and have become the sole fuel provider in Canouan.

“That in itself was thrown to us as a lifeline, because at that juncture, you would have recognized that we would have lost a significant amount of our income when Caribbean Sun and Star stopped operating,” Drayton noted.

Being a business that moves large volumes of fuel, the manager highlighted the importance of providing quality service to customers. He said VAS strives to be the best at all times.

However, being in the fuel industry is not without its share of problems. Drayton explained that there is a peak season, which is followed by a steep decline during the off season, especially since the Raffles Resort is no longer operating.

“During the first couple of years, there was Raffles Resort and that provided us with quite a bit of income because there were steadier airplane movements into Canouan,” he said. “For the last two years, it has not been as good as the years before”.

Additionally, there is no storage in Canouan as it relates to jet fuel supply, forcing VAS to transport its fuel to the island, a venture that has a high cost affixed to it.

Drayton pointed out that the company had applied for the installation of a fuel storage plant on the island, but this application was however, refused.

Despite these problems, VAS has approached each challenge with admirable resilience and determination.

Drayton explained that the company, which provides aviation services to Conviasa Airlines, has to move their fuel from St Vincent or St Lucia into Canouan by chartered vessel.

Even with the added expense of transporting fuel to Canouan, Drayton observed that one would be pleasantly surprised to know that the prices offered by VAS are just as good as other fuel providers in this country – an accomplishment in which the company takes pride.

As a result, VAS has managed to provide a very important service to Canouan’s airport. In fact, operations manager for fuel Stanley Gonsalves pointed out exactly how important their services are.

“If fuel is not in Canouan, we will not be able to support the tourism that is there,” he said. “I see it as the fuel being a vital and integral part of the entire survival of Canouan as an island ,as we are the current fuellers there.

“Yes, it does have its limitations. We have to transport it at a high cost, but once it’s done correctly, it can work”.

It is hoped that new developments in Canouan and mainland St Vincent, to a greater extent, will help to even out the peaks and troughs of the business.

“We would like to see continued business throughout the entire year, so we are hoping that opportunities coming on stream in Canouan, that the benefit would be across the board, not only for Caribbean Aviation Management, but for hoteliers and taxi men and all the other people and service providers,” Gonsalves added.

Although VAS is a fairly young company, Drayton boasts of an experienced workforce, that is extremely hard working. He is positive that VAS has much to offer St Vincent and the Grenadines, as aviation is extremely important to the country, especially when it comes to the tourism product.

“The important thing is that we have survived 13 years and we are going into our 14th year and we believe that it is going to get better, especially with the coming on stream of the new airport here. We believe there is a future for us as an aviation business,” he said.(BK)