Air Travel: Guyana – A debacle of no mean proportions

A debacle of no mean proportions


The Diaspora is still Guyana’s most interesting location. These are the people who seem to be paying more interest in the country than even many of the people who reside within its borders. No longer must they rely on the letters and telephone conversations from their relatives and friends back home, they have access to information from numerous quarters.

These are the people who read the newspapers online, follow the various online news links and even listen to the internet radio out of the country. To hear some of them talk about issues, you believe that they actually live in Guyana and have access to the various sources of information. 

That is why they are so upset with the air travel situation. Many of them had not seen their homeland for years for a variety of reasons. Some had overstayed their welcome, but had no choice but to scrounge and live quieter than a mouse for fear of being picked up and deported.

They all worked hard with a determination to help their relatives back home and to ensure that their children get the best that life has to offer. Eventually, for many, their situation improved and they could afford to visit their homeland, if only to show off to those they left behind that there is a better life outside Guyana. And when they opted to come they did not want to come alone, because there were others who also wanted to come. The need for companionship was great.

There were Guyana-based airlines that offered cheap fares, but these all failed for one reason or the other. Caribbean Airlines, the region’s oldest airline, continued. And being a monopoly, its fares suddenly climbed way above the average. Of course, this has not passed unnoticed, and the government has raised its voice in protest.

Caribbean Airlines has not been the most financially viable airline. Just recently it sacked its entire management team and replaced that team with fresh individuals. Before that, the Trinidad Government had to provide a bailout package. That government is already subsidising the fuel provided to the airline, to the extent that other airlines operating in the region are protesting what they say is unfair competition.

But the Guyanese have another problem. They complain that the Trinidadians treat them badly at their immigration checkpoints. And indeed there have been instances where the Guyanese have been singled out for harsh treatment. This may be explained by the perception of the Trinidadians that Guyanese are all bent on settling in Trinidad.

The Trinidadians also believe that Guyanese are professional smugglers who seek to move any and everything past the immigration officers. Of course, they would have been familiar with the Guyanese who had been taking various consumer articles that were in demand in Trinidad and available in Guyana.

Times have changed, although the perception of Guyanese as poverty-stricken people still remains, but the truth is that Guyanese are better off these days.
To change the complaints, Guyana either needs to attract other airlines or initiate its own airline. Indeed it had one, but that collapsed for a variety of reasons, one being the government’s perception of the management.

This year, after the collapse of EZjet, the carrier started by a Guyanese who now finds himself in the arms of the United States law enforcement officers, prices went through the roof and the government took notice.

The Tourism Minister spoke about the various airlines that the government had approached. He even said that they demonstrated an interest. Today, they are saying that they will not come unless Caribbean Airlines stops enjoying the subsidy it enjoys.

This is not likely to happen and Guyana will be penny wise and pound foolish to withdraw the flag carrier status that it has granted the airline. There is talk in the international community that this flag carrier status has set back the drive to attract Fly Jamaica, a new carrier. If this is true, Guyana would have to find another way around this problem.

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  • Deen  On 08/14/2013 at 6:12 pm

    Guyana is caught between a rock and a hard place. They must open the door and avoid the monopoly of Caribbean Airlines. Perhaps a possible solution is to work out a partnership with Suriname or other South American neighbors, Brazil and Venezuela.

  • needybad4u  On 08/15/2013 at 2:31 am

    It is unfortunate that the misdeeds of a few Guyanese in transit from place to place can have such a poor effect on all of us. And to top this is the apparent mismanagement of those who are in the airline business. Certainly we need to come to terms with our actions to make this bad smell disappear. After all we’re Guyanese.

  • rajendra lall  On 08/16/2013 at 1:10 am

    Our country is doing so better now y can’t it have its own airline ? Who is taking all of the money this is total BS.$1500 + for a ticket

  • A very Frustrated Onlooker  On 08/16/2013 at 2:06 am

    Allyuh want an airline? Listen to me nuh. It tek millions to make an airline…’bout $100 million US…not enough den $200 million… So follow the official name of your country nuh…the Cooperative Republic of Guyana…and allyuh co-operate…. Dey seh that about a million Guyanese live outside of Guyana…so leh we do the math…let every man jack throw $100 in a box hand…we got de $100 million rass real easy… leh we buy some planes, hire some fly boys and staff it properly…If you need $200 million raise it to $200 a man…and so on…and stop the blood cloth complaining… we got de money…nuff, nuff money. If every man jack is worth $20,000 that means that the Overseas Bank of Guyana already have $200 billion…I ready fuh put in my $200…and ah want to call the airline Co-op Guyana Airways…yes? aha! nuff said!

    • Adeli Bian  On 08/21/2013 at 1:53 pm

      I simply liked your comment.

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