Guyana airlift increases as additional airlines enter the market

Guyana airlift increases as additional airlines enter the market
Published on October 26, 2015 – By Ray Chickrie  – Caribbean News Now contributor
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COPA Airlines

GEORGETOWN, Guyana– A decade ago, Guyana was only served by a few airlines. Today that number has more than doubled, and airlines have also increased their frequency on existing routes in recent weeks. Moreover, more international carriers are set to enter the Guyana market in the near future.

Due to high demand for its superior service, Star Alliance member, COPA Airlines of Panama, which entered the Guyana market just over a year ago, is adding two additional flights to Guyana from its Panama hub in December. With two additional flights on Wednesdays and Saturdays, COPA will double its frequency to four weekly.

COPA is the only airline operating to Guyana that offers its passengers a full meal and beverage without any additional cost. As well, passengers can carry two suitcases of up to 50 lbs each.

Copa Airlines sales manager in Guyana, Nadine Oudkerk, said that customers will be pleased by this additional service.

She said, “We are extremely happy to provide our customers with even more travelling options. With the growing demand for our service, we have no doubt that this move will be welcomed. Copa looks forward to the continued support of the Guyanese people to whom we remain committed to providing an exemplary service.”

Additionally, Insel Airline has increased its Guyana frequency from four to six flights weekly from Aruba and Curacao. This expanded service will mean “seamless connections” for Georgetown passengers connecting to Insel’s hubs in Aruba and Curacao to Insel’s vast network, which includes Bonaire, St Maarten, Manaus, Santo Domingo, Miami, Jamaica, Havana and to Venezuelan destinations such as Barquisimeto, Valencia, Caracas and Maracaibo, according to a press release from the airline.

Regional carrier LIAT, which is based in Antigua, has also more than doubled its flights into Ogle, Georgetown’s second international airport. The company flies daily in and out of Ogle to Barbados and Trinidad.

New start up airline, Fly Allways, a private company from Suriname, will connect Guyana with Barbados, Trinidad and Boa Vista, Brazil, from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. This will add competition on those routes that LIAT and Caribbean Airlines (CAL) ply, and may result in lower airfares between Guyana, Barbados and Trinidad, which normally cost about US$400 roundtrip, and which is about the same to fly from New York to Port of Spain.

Brazil’s Azul Blue, which recently commenced service from Belem to Cayenne, French Guiana, has also expressed an interest in flying into Ogle Airport. Azul Blue has a fleet of 54 ATR 72/500/600. This type of aircraft is suitable for Ogle International Airport, and can be cost efficient in linking Guyana, which has a large Brazilian community, to major cities in Brazil. There is currently no air service between Guyana and Brazil.

It is only a matter of time before JetBlue enters the Guyana market according to an industry source in Georgetown. JetBlue held discussions with the foreign minister of Guyana, Carl Greenidge last month in Miami. JetBlue, like other carriers, is concerned about drug trafficking, corruption and theft at Georgetown’s Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).

The extension of the runway at the CJIA is going ahead as planned, and the modernization and expansion of the existing terminal is being fine tuned by the new government that took office recently. However, they have scrapped plans to build a new terminal.

An extended runway will allow for long haul flights. The government wants to attract carriers from Asia, Europe and Africa and is in discussions with three European companies, according to an airport official in Guyana. Negotiations are reportedly in an advanced stage with one European airline to connect Guyana with London.

Due to major oil discoveries in Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana recently, the aviation sectors in these countries are poised to take off. Excitement is building around Exxon Mobil’s discovery offshore Guyana, the country’s first oil find. Production is expected to begin in 2018 as ExxonMobil look to fast track the development of the Liza-1 discovery in Guyana.

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