Aircraft owners ‘struggling to stay in business’, deny increasing fares
See below full statement issued by the Aircraft Owners Association:
The Aircraft Owners Association of Guyana (AOAG) completely rejects the assertions made in the Press Release issued by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) accusing all domestic aviation operators of increasing airfares and is shocked that the Authority should do so without first checking the facts.
It is most unfortunate that Director General, Egbert Field, should use terms such as “unconscionable” and “unscrupulous” to describe the entire industry based on a complaint made by the Amerindian People’s Association (APA) of an increase in passenger and freight prices which, in fact, referred only to one operator, Air Services Ltd., operating exclusively, at the time, in Region 8.
The Aircraft Owners Association of Guyana, comprising Trans Guyana Airways, JAGS Aviation, Wings Aviation and Roraima Airways (who is also a member of NATA), have not increased their prices in spite of the restrictions imposed on the industry by the COVID-19 Task Force through the GCAA.
The fact is that the shutdown of almost all passenger operations in the interior have led to a more than 50% reduction of all flights and making the removal of VAT ineffective and leaving our members struggling to stay in business.
The AOAG understands the concerns expressed by the APA and the Government with regard to Region 8 food and freight supplies and have decided, therefore, to immediately look at introducing flights to provide relief in this area.
AOAG members, since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, have introduced stringent protocols to ensure the safety of our passengers, including 100% temperature testing of all passengers and staff, sanitizing of our aircraft before every flight, the compulsory wearing of face masks and hand sanitizing before passengers and crew board the aircraft. All cargo is similarly sanitized.
In spite of these strict precautionary protocols being applied, the COVID-19 Task Force has further enforced a 50% passenger restriction (it was initially set at 75%) on all domestic flights. In addition, the Task Force has stopped all passenger flights to border destinations, which, inexplicably, have included Matthews Ridge and Port Kaituma, even though these border locations were already closed off and a No Fly Order was in place for all foreign travelers.
The Aircraft Owners Association of Guyana has discussed these matters with the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority and has advised that the measures being enforced by the COVID-19 Task Force are excessive, given the mitigation measures already in place against the risk of spreading the virus, and that these measures have been taken without sufficient regard for the negative economic impact on the hinterland communities.
The AOAG notes that while, in Guyana, domestic airlines are suffering from punitive COVID-19 restrictions and are being threatened with Government control, in other countries, Governments are moving to bailout airlines in financial trouble resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AOAG must also point out that while these restrictions are being placed on aviation traffic to border areas, there is ample evidence that there is little or no enforcement in place on the ground as passenger vehicles and boats continue to operate freely at these locations.