JetBlue eyes future Guyana market

JetBlueJetBlue eyes future Guyana market

By Ray Chickrie – Caribbean News Now contributor – August 26, 2015

NEW YORK, USA — The Guyanese public has been using Facebook and other social media outlets to lobby JetBlue to enter the Guyana market especially, since JetBlue commenced services to Trinidad, airfares from New York and Florida to that Caribbean island are as low as US$300 round trip from New York City.

A very large Guyanese community exists in the East Coast of the United States, who have faced “fly-by- night” airlines and exorbitant airfares to their native country for the past three decades. However, if JetBlue adds Guyana to its extensive Caribbean network, it could be a game changer.

According to aviation specialist, Vinay Bashara, in a recent article, a presentation at JetBlue’s Investor Day in 2013 outlined potential growth markets for JetBlue from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) and Guyana was identified in that presentation.
In an invited comment from JetBlue, the airline said, “We are always looking to expand and fly to the places people want to go. We have no decisions regarding Guyana to announce at this time.”

FLL is one of JetBlue’s major hubs, operating 632 flights per week (90 per day) to 39 destinations, including 13 international ones. JetBlue focuses on the Caribbean and South America and plans major expansion into the region, as far as Brazil and Chile, according to Bashara.

Currently only Caribbean Airlines (CAL) plies the Guyana-New York route. Airfares to Guyana are now as high as US$900 round trip and look to remain the same for the upcoming Christmas season. While there are other little known airlines flying between Guyana and New York, the Guyanese public has been burnt before and is hesitant to use them.
Caribbean Airlines (CAL) of Trinidad and Tobago, one of a few reliable carriers serving the Guyana market for the past 50 years, effectively controls the Guyana market. They operate about 12 flights a day in and out Georgetown.

More recently Copa, Insel, Fly Jamaica and Surinam Airlines entered the Guyana market but that hasn’t brought airfares between Guyana, North America and the Caribbean down. A charter company, Dynamic Airways operates five-days a week using a Boeing 767 out of JFK to Guyana and has an average load factor of about 75 percent. However, Guyanese have been left stranded at airports many times by “fly-by-night” charter airlines.

Flyallways Airways of Suriname before December will station a Fokker jet at Guyana’s Ogle Airport and fly to Boa Vista, Brazil, Barbados, Antigua, Trinidad and Suriname. If this startup company survives, it could be a relief to Guyanese travellers travelling within the Caribbean.

Guyana has embarked on a US$150 million modernization of its main international airport, which includes the extension of its sole runway to about 11,000 ft. In addition, the new government that took power in Guyana a few months ago is keen to achieve Category 1 status for the airport. It is not certain that the new government wants to resurrect a national carrier and, if such is the case, category 1 is mandatory to allow Guyana-based carriers to fly to the United States.

Moreover, exorbitant cost of jet fuel in Guyana, one of the highest in the region, has kept airlines out of Guyana. Last year, to address this constraint, state-owned Guyoil opened a US$2 million jet fuel facility at the airport. Guyoil’s jet fuel is expected to be sold for approximately US$4 per gallon compared to the US$6 to US$7 being offered by private companies.

Guyana has seen growth in the aviation industry. According to a study by Innovata Airline specialist, Guyana airports grew 12 percent in 2014. Eight airlines now operate out of Guyana, with Caribbean Airlines (CAL) taking over 75 percent of the market. CAL operates Boeing 737-800 service six times daily in and out of Guyana. It also operates a daily non-stop service to JFK and back.

After Trinidad and Tobago, the United States is the second largest market out of Guyana and one-way weekly seat capacity between Guyana and the US stands at 1,108 according to Innovata but that analysis is flawed because many Guyanese transit via Trinidad to the United States.

That one-way weekly seat capacity may have only taken into account CAL’s daily non-stop Boeing 737-800 (154 seats) service to Guyana from JFK, totaling 1,078. As well, that study did not include Dynamic Airways five times weekly Boeing 767 service between JFK and Guyana and Surinam Airways flights from Guyana to Miami and Orlando. As well, Fly Jamaica operates four weekly flights out of JFK to Guyana non-stop and via Kingston.

Just recently, in July, regional carrier LIAT announced strong increases in passengers and revenues. Much was attributed to an increase of 62 percent in passengers travelling the Barbados/Guyana route.
According to a LIAT press release, “The Barbados-Guyana route saw strong growth in both revenue and passenger numbers versus July 2014. The best performing route for LIAT was Barbados-Guyana, which nearly doubled its revenue year on year.”

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  • Deen  On 08/28/2015 at 3:48 pm

    A very detailed and informative report by Ray Chickrie.
    This is great news! I’ve traveled with JetBlue and have never had any complaints. It’s a good and reliable airline. If this materializes and JetBlue becomes one of the carriers to Guyana, I’m sure it’ll make Guyanese happy.

  • Cliff  On 08/29/2015 at 5:06 pm

    This would be great if JetBlue could have a base in Guyana. To get to California I have to arrive in NY then board JetBlue in order to arrive in CA which takes up to six hours delay time at JFK Airport before boarding. This is really tiresome. If JetBlue comes here, I could bypass Trinidad and go directly to NY and then board another JB for CA which would be much shorter and even much cheaper. So come on JetBlue make your entry to Guyana in a hurry.

  • Patricia Elvis  On 08/10/2016 at 4:34 pm

    I am glad to know that there are more airlines to be entering Guyana. Guyana is a beautiful place. I want to bring my children and grandchildren to visit my place of birth. Now that there are more airlines and connecting routes are becoming available I will be able to bring them. Home sweet home my Guyana. Lots of family history my father was a very well known person. He also played cricket with some of the best players of all times for example Basil Butcher, Clive Lloyd. I want them to know more of my culture and history.

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