Airfares to Guyana at an all time high again – By Ray Chickrie

Airfares to Guyana at an all time high again
September 4, 2015 – By Ray Chickrie – Caribbean News Now contributor
Caribbean_Airlines_logo-600x270NEW YORK, USA — Airfares to Guyana are again at an all-time high, despite promises by Caribbean Airlines (CAL), which controls over 75 percent of the Guyana market. For at least a year, advance booking summer and Christmas season airfares from New York to Guyana have remained above US$900, notwithstanding promises from CAL that it wouldn’t exploit the monopoly it holds over the Guyana skies.

CAL is the only scheduled airline operating from New York to Georgetown, Guyana. After Trinidad and Tobago, Georgetown is CAL’s second busiest route.  

Just like Guyana, CAL operates an average of 12 flights in and out of Jamaica daily. However, the Guyana passenger load factor is higher than Jamaica because Jamaicans have choices. There are eight US airlines servicing Jamaica, whereas not a single US-based airline flies to Guyana.

And in an invited comment, CAL claims that its pricing is comparable to other carriers plying the same routes. CAL also refutes claims that it is using its monopoly to keep airfares high.

While other airlines – Copa, Insel, Fly Jamaica and SLM (Surinam Airways) – have entered the Guyana market, airfares between Guyana, North America and the Caribbean haven’t dropped. CAL flies non-stop daily from JFK to Georgetown, Guyana.

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” airlines.

Fly Jamaica and Dynamic Airways from JFK to Guyana at peak seasons are just over US$1,000 roundtrip.
CAL’s non-stop fare between Guyana and New York throughout the year stands at around US$866. For US$200 less, passengers may layover in Trinidad, change planes or overnight there. Basically, CAL has jacked up the non-stop flights.

Interestingly, from monitoring various booking sites, airfares between Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago average about US$450 roundtrip or more. Ironically, one can buy a round-trip ticket from JFK to Trinidad and Tobago for US$400 from CAL. Again, CAL argues that other carriers have similar pricing.

CAL had a monopoly on the Georgetown route since Guyana Airways went out of business. Only a few months ago, regional carrier LIAT entered the Port of Spain-Georgetown market and has matched CAL’s pricing on the route. However, airfares on this route aren’t falling, despite the entrance of LIAT.

Flyallways Airways of Suriname is seeking permission from the government of Trinidad to fly the Port of Spain-Georgetown route. To protect CAL, the Trinidad and Tobago government financially hemorrhaged the ill-fated Redjet airline by delaying that now demised carrier landing rights to ply that route and others. Flyallways may be facing the same treatment from the government in Port of Spain.

After this issue was raised with one airline, airfares between Guyana and Trinidad were suddenly reduced to US$300 roundtrip. LIAT may soon follow suit.

Guyanese are the fifth largest ethnic group in New York City and have been victims of “fly-by-night” carriers for the past three decades. There are about 150,000 Guyanese in New York City and that does not include those born in the United States. Hence, a large ethnic market exists.

CAL’s promise to station an aircraft in Guyana and make it one of its hubs hasn’t materialized yet. Two CAL employees, who want to remain anonymous, argued that CAL has wasted millions of dollars developing its London and Jamaican routes, while neglecting to invest further in Guyana’s aviation industry.

Guyanese travellers for decades have complained about discrimination they face when transiting via Port of Spain. The foreign ministry of Guyana has had to intervene several times by calling meetings with Caribbean Airlines officials to address these allegations.

The Guyana routes are CAL’s biggest revenue earner; the Guyana market has remained CAL’s “bread and butter” insiders reveal and Guyanese have remained loyal to CAL and its predecessor BWIA West Indies Airways for the past 50 years.

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  • Linda  On 09/05/2015 at 10:44 am

    Why would anyone expect an Airline that holds the monopoly to keep their promises with regard to lower airfares.

  • joseph Archibald  On 09/05/2015 at 6:18 pm

    Time for GuyanaAirways to be resurrected, Guyana should have its own airline.

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