Virgin Atlantic among airlines to join local market

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Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson on Friday announced that UK based Virgin Atlantic Airline is eyeing the Guyana market.

Speaking at the sod turning ceremony for the construction of a new building for the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) which is responsible for regulating the sector, the Minister disclosed that engagements have already commenced with the international airline.

“They were on a Skype call to myself and Minister of Finance (Winston Jordan) on them coming here… This is head of the Directors of the airline who deals with routes. He’s going into a meeting and he would like to know what is Guyana’s position, saying (he) would like to put Guyana on (their) routes for 2020,” Minister Patterson told those gathered at Providence, East Bank Demerara (EBD) on Friday.

Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson

Minister Patterson said the aviation sector is expanding and even moreso as a result of the oil and gas industry which has recorded 14 successful discoveries from 2015 to present.

He added that there are two other major airlines which are expected to join the local market this year. He said one was expected to launch its operations in November 2019 but was forced to put that on hold as a result of the issues experienced by Boeing in the manufacturing of the 737 Max aircraft.

The Minister said in 2015, there were only two private helicopters operating in Guyana but that has since increased to 13 and is expected to reach 20 by the end of this year and 30 by the end of 2020.

Speaking about the expansion of the aviation sector, he urged the GCAA to increase its monitoring capabilities noting that one aircraft accident is too much.

Director General of the GCAA, Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Egbert Field

described the increase of airlines as “a tsunami”, noting that the GCAA is prepared to withstand the rising and soon to be massive increases in demand for service and regulations.

“There’s a tsunami heading towards Guyana when we look at the aviation industry and if we do not build this authority to become a robust entity we will be submerged by the waves of that tsunami,” he said.

It was highlighted that the Authority has put in place a new Civil Aviation Act which satisfies International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards, ensuring that Guyana’s two main airports pass the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inspections, computerizing of the Personal Licensing system for the aviation sector, and the reduction of accidents by inspectors.

The Guyana tourism Authority (GTA) recently reported that Guyana could see its number of overseas visitors increase to 500,000 by the year 2025 based on current statistical trends for growth of people coming to Guyana in 2017 to now. This would represent an expected 100% increase in visitors to Guyana.

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