EASTERN Airlines LLC is mandated to lodge two bonds totalling US$450,000 before it commences operations here in Guyana, Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, disclosed on Thursday.
The airline had submitted an application to the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCCA) to operate scheduled flights between the John F. Kennedy International Airport and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport using its Boeing 767200/300 aircraft.
At a press conference at the Ministry of the Presidency on Thursday, Harmon said while Cabinet has approved Eastern Airlines’ application to conduct scheduled air services between New York, United States of America and Georgetown, Guyana, the bonds are a prerequisite given the history of the airline here.
“Cabinet approved the application submitted by Eastern Airline LLC and has agreed that the airline can commence operations on or before December 08, 2019 subject to the posting of a bond of US$250,000 to the Government of Guyana and a separate bond of US$200,000 to the Guyana Revenue Authority,” the Director-General told reporters.
Eastern Airlines, under its former brand – Dynamic Airways, had filed for bankruptcy in 2018. It was as a result of its financial challenges, that the Guyanese Government had taken a decision earlier this year to decline its application to re-enter Guyana’s market. Approximately six months after rejecting the airline’s application, the government has granted its approval but under strict conditions.
“We were always concerned about its history and the fact that we do not want Guyanese people stranded again having bought tickets, and stranded either here in Georgetown or New York… and so the question of the bond was one sure way of satisfying that requirement that if in fact that were to happen, that we would be in a position to be able to charter aircraft to get people to their destinations,” the Director-General explained.
Harmon noted too that the application was approved after extensive due diligence and “serious” lobbying from international bodies. “From the GCCA, where these decisions are made, they actually reported that there has been a heavy lobbying taking place from official US sources to get this airline to come to Guyana,” he said.
Previously, Eastern Airlines, which was headquartered in Miami, operated a charter service between Guyana and New York through an arrangement with Travel Span and One Guyana. However, Eastern Airlines folded in 2017 and was bought over by Swift Air.
Following a range of investment maneuverings, a document seen by this newspaper indicated that Dynamic International Airways had applied to the United States Department of Transportation to operate its Boeing 767 aircraft under the Eastern Airlines name.
The document, filed with the U.S. authorities, stated that Kenneth Wolley, a 38 per cent shareholder of Swift Air, became the 100 per cent owner at Dynamic Airways after it declared bankruptcy earlier this year. As a result, Dynamic Airways is able to use the ‘Eastern’ brand.
In July 2017, following several instances when passengers were stranded at the CJIA and the John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport, the carrier announced that it had filed a voluntary Chapter 11 petition with the United States Bankruptcy Court.
It stated that it intended to continue its operations here as its principals had restructured plans. The airline noted that its decision to file for bankruptcy protection followed litigation matters resulting from Hajj flights, the airline operated in 2014 for Air India.
Later, Dynamic made its final flight out of Guyana in October 2017 and left it to the travel agents here to inform passengers left behind that they needed to officially write the company to request refunds for tickets purchased. Several weeks before the announcement, travel agents indicated that they were unable to book flights with the troubled airline.
Dynamic subsequently announced that as of March 8, 2018, it was out of bankruptcy protection and would be developing its ACMI charter business under its Eastern Air Lines brand.