… and other options include a new local airline, says Minister Prashad
TOURISM, Industry and Commerce Minister Manniram Prashad has revealed that another air carrier is expected in Guyana by the end of the year.
And in addition, Guyana has several other options in the air transport sector, including a new local airline, the Minister told the Chronicle.
“We have entered discussions with a Middle East interest and the paper work is being done. From all indications, another airline will be based in Guyana by year end,” he said.
Prashad noted that his Ministry is in talks with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines which plies the route from Amsterdam to Paramaribo, Suriname.
“KLM is looking at a Paramaribo/Guyana/Suriname route. We have discussions ongoing,” he said.
The Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister added that Suriname Airways has also been engaged in talks.
According to him, Suriname Airways is looking to have flights from Paramaribo to Guyana to Miami.
Prashad said a meeting is due soon with Jet Blue Airways to decide whether or not this carrier will soon have a presence in Guyana.
“They have requested information and this I feel is a positive indication of their interests,” he said.
The Minister pointed out too that other private individuals have expressed an interest and have also requested information.
However, he maintained that with this group, advancements are in “infancy” stage.
Prashad observed that the introduction of a new local airline is a move in the right direction.
“We are in the process of upgrading our facilities to satisfy the relevant conditions,” he said.
In the last months, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has had its structure and operations audited by the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System (CASSOS).
To facilitate a new air carrier, the local aviation body would have to upgrade its operations significantly.
In some cases, countries like the United States will not allow any airline to operate between Guyana and airports there, unless the local body meets certain international standards. Currently, Guyana falls in the Category Two rating of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and is among 22 nations in this category, alongside Belize, Nicaragua and Haiti.
The FAA initiated its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme in 1992 as a means of rating countries regarding their compliance with minimum standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Ratings regarding the adequacy of sovereign countries Regulatory Safety Oversight are done in two categories: Category One, comprising national aviation bodies which comply with the relevant requirements of ICAO; and Category Two which encompasses states that do not meet all the required standards and procedures.
President Bharrat Jagdeo had stated earlier this year that the establishment of a local airline service in response to exorbitant air fares charged by the existing airlines, particularly Caribbean Airlines, was desirable.
Guyana Airways was the national airline of Guyana from 1973 to 2001. During this period, it operated services to destinations throughout the Caribbean, the U.S. and Canada. It was declared insolvent in 2001.
Guyana Airways was an important link for the Guyanese community. It provided a way to and out of the country. The airline was headquartered in Georgetown Guyana. After the airline went bankrupt in 2001. Its successor, Guyana Air 2000, maintained a short-lived operation until 2003, when it too filed for insolvency.