Guyana still seeking a national airline as oil revenue kicks in

Guyana still seeking a national airline as oil revenue kicks in

January 3, 2018 – By Ray Chickrie – Caribbean News Now

Boeing 737-200 of Guyana Airways -1980

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — The government of Guyana is close to disclosing plans to resurrect a national carrier after the demise of Guyana Airways in 2001. There have been ongoing talks within the government on the issue.

One of the ruling coalition parties, the People’s National Congress (PNC), which took pride in giving Guyana a national carrier, is upbeat about the idea, especially that the country will earn US$7 billion from oil revenues in the next 20 years.    

This is may be why the prime minister of Guyana, Moses Nagamootoo, who comes from the Alliance for Change Party (AFC), said this week that “Guyana needs a national carrier”.

“The Coalition dreams of a national airline and hopes this will be realised as Guyana’s financial position improves. Guyana is glowingly becoming both a destination of interest to investors and attractive for tourists looking for eco-and-green, natural spots. i am optimistic that we could have our own national carrier in the near future,” Nagamootoo said.

New start up carrier, Guyana Airways 2018, which is looking to fly soon, is seeking an air operator’s certificate (AOC) from the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), and the airline claims that this can help Guyana achieve US FAA CAT 1 certification, which would mean that Guyana based airlines can fly nonstop to US cities. The two countries have an open-skies agreement.

In a press statement on Tuesday, Guyana Airways 2018 said that Guyana “cannot do this alone”. The airline, which is not flying yet, claimed that Guyana needs an airline such as “Guyana Airways to be in operation”. The airline said that once this is done, they will file an application to fly to the US. Then the US will have to send an FAA team to Guyana to carry out an assessment.

It seems that the airline is seeking official status at the national air carrier of Guyana.

“If GCAA is found to be meeting its minimum safety obligations under the Chicago Convention, the FAA will forward a positive recommendation to DOT and the FAA will issue operations specifications (Opspecs) to permit Guyana Airways to begin operations to and from the United States,” the press statement read.

However, the process that Guyana Airways outlined is questionable and uncertain. Also, the airline is little known said Tomas Chlumecky, an aviation expert familiar with Guyana.

The airline disclosed on Tuesday, January 2 2018, that it is waiting GCAA approval of its AOC (operation) application.

Guyana was recognized for improvement after a recent ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) audit. Guyana moved from 44.24 percent to 64.66 percent effective implementation of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs). That figure is expected to increase when the next audit is completed and GCAA expects Guyana to regain its Category 1 status.

The idea may not face opposition from the People’s Progressive Party (PPP). In principle, they will support the idea but, not being in power, the PPP will speak from both sides of the mouth. There is consensus among all stakeholders in Guyana and the common people that the country should bring back a national airline.

The government of Guyana is aware of Fly Jamaica/Guyana Airways delays and cancellations problems and is concerned. This is why the airline may not get flag carrier status. The government may fall back on ideological commitment. Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham, founders of Guyana, saw the need for a national airline to open the frontiers of Guyana for settlements, investments, agriculture, tourism and even moving the administrative capital to the frontier.

With much oil wealth in the future, and with superb management like Ethiopian and Turkish Airlines, Guyana can seek support through South/South cooperation to build a profitable airline to service North America, West Africa, the Caribbean and Brazil. This could also help grow Surinam Airways (SLM) with a shared vision of cooperation to tap the future “oil boom of the Guianas”, said an SLM board member. The two countries, because of strong ethic and cultural affinity to Ghana, have always wanted a direct air-link to Accra.

With the discovery of oil in the Guianas and more to come, these sleepy countries have the potential to be Singapore or Dubai in the Caribbean former ambassador of Suriname to the UN, Henry Macdonald has remarked several times.

With Guyana due to achieve FAA CAT 1 status, and the US$150 million upgrade of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) before the end of 2018, the aviation industry will see tremendous growth because the government will spend a great deal of oil revenue on infrastructure, education, health, agriculture and tourism to diversify the economy. Guyana is thinking of soliciting a foreign partner to help develop a local airline that will have access to the Guyana-US open skies treaty.

Chlumecky reiterated, “It’s time for Guyana to have a national airline, but do it right; slowly – no blasting off to London, but yes to Miami, New York, and Toronto. The company can start well with two B737-800s or A320s.” This is a good “place to start” and, step by step, “the airline can grow under good management.”

Guyana Airways History: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guyana_Airways

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