By Ravin Singh
Guyanese could benefit from reduced airfares with the introduction of a Jamaican Airline which will serve as a low-cost carrier (LCC) for the regional market.
At the Liguanea Club in New Kingston, Jamaica on Thursday, the operators of Oriole Limited announced the launch of the airline which is expected to commence full operation in 387 days.
This announcement comes less than a year after Fly Jamaica Airways folded, affecting thousands of customers and hundreds of staff who were made redundant.
Prior to that, several Jamaican airlines including Trans-Jamaican Airlines, Jamaica Air Shuttle, Air Jamaica Express and Air Jamaica all folded.
“I knew from the time when I was Minister of Tourism that Jamaica has been a graveyard for airlines. I hope like me you will be persuaded that now is the time for a bold new vision for the aviation sector in Jamaica,” Chairperson of Oriole, Aloun Ndombet-Assamba said.
So far the airline has secured 80 per cent of its funding, and is currently examining Jamaican content in ownership, said Keith Kerr, Project Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
The airline is expected to service the domestic and regional markets, with routes being mapped through countries like Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Curacao, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Panama among others.
The operators shared that the intention is to provide low-cost travel between regional routes. This will effectively pull down the cost of intraregional travel which Caribbean nationals continue to complain about.
It was only last month that the Guyana Competitions and Consumer Affairs Commission (CCAC) concluded in a study that the region’s largest airline – Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) – was exploiting Guyanese in an attempt to offset massive losses being incurred by the carrier.
CAL, in response, has denied overcharging Guyanese and contended that the “inaccurate” claim has done a major disservice to the airline and Guyanese who regularly fly with them.
The discovery and ongoing production of oil in Guyana have also contributed to increased travel between Guyana, with the Cheddi Jagan International Airport recording consistent increases in passenger arrivals over the last few years.
And according to Diane Edwards, President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (Jampro), with more investment interest coming out of the Caribbean and the wider region, Oriole can make a tremendous difference.
“The aviation industry is ripe for movement, logistics is growing as couriers need to be sent from here to there, more document needs to be transported, cargoes etc, we need options,” she shared at the launch.