Guyana: New CJIA fees now embedded in ticket cost

Passengers travelling through the CJIA at Timehri .

Weeks after facing long lines and numerous complaints, the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Corporation (CJIAC) will now instead see new fees being charged at the time of tickets being purchased. The fees are supposed to help the airport recover some of the US$150M spent to renovate the airport.

According to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, all airport-related charges are included in the passenger tickets effective May 11, 2019.

“The airlines confirmed that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) had incorporated the fees into the price of the ticket and therefore passengers purchasing a ticket after May 11th 2019 will no longer be required to pay this charge separately.”           

The airport had come under severe criticisms for the fees by government officials, stakeholders and travellers, as it ultimately affected ticket prices negatively.

Because there was no system for tickets to include the almost $4,000 increase, passengers were reportedly asked to join separate lines at the airport to pay the fees.

There was anger, as CJIAC went ahead with introducing the higher fees from May 1 amid questions over the multibillion-dollar project which should have seen a brand new terminal and longer runway. However, instead, the old terminal was gutted and renovated.

IATA, the Ministry of Business and the Department of Tourism, all criticised the implementations of the fees. However, CJIAC had made it clear that IATA has little legal standing to make such demands.

The strong statement by CJIAC noted that the association has one member it is aware of – Caribbean Airlines Limited.

IATA had noted last month that, “It is completely unacceptable that passengers are being inconvenienced in such a manner. This is a direct result of the airport’s management refusal to engage with IATA on a process, which is standard practice across the globe. As a consequence, our member airlines have unfortunately no choice other than to manually collect the additional fees and charges.”

CJIAC said that as a public corporation, its officers and employees are prohibited to, under the penalty of law from among other things, providing information to entities for the purposes of certifying the basis on which the corporation determined the fees it would charge.

“CJIAC would like to assure the travelling public that there is no legal requirement for it to make an application to IATA for the introduction or increase in airport fees. Further, there is no legal requirement that CJIAC provide the information requested by IATA,” CJIAC had said in a recent statement.

CJIAC had argued that the larger terminal with passenger boarding bridges has seen a significant increase in operational cost, inclusive of power consumption.

CJIAC said that this is not the first time that there has been an increase in airport fees and charges. “On the last occasion in 2017, IATA was able to implement the new fees in as little as 6-8 weeks. Notably, there was no demand from the airport to provide its internal documents. The letters and correspondence informing the airlines were sufficient for IATA to act on in the case of airport fees, whilst a copy of the legislation was requested in respect of the increased government taxes.”

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