Int’l hotels, airlines and new airstrips to come on stream soon

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At least five regional and international airlines, along with several reputable hotels, have expressed interest in expanding their brands to Guyana in the coming months, Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill said on Wednesday.

“We want the world visiting Guyana and we want Guyana visiting the world. We want to ensure that our air link and transportation is robust, accessible, predictable, reliable and affordable and one of the ways you can ensure affordability is by ensuring competition,” the Minister said as he installed a new Board of Directors to oversee the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

The airlines are UK-based Virgin Atlantic, Canadian owned WestJet airlines, interCaribbean Airways from Turks and Caicos, Surinamese Fly All Ways and JetBlue.

The News Room understands that JetBlue will begin operations on December 11.

“We hope those talks come out successfully,” Minister Edghill said in his address to those gathered in the boardroom of the GCAA, High Street, Georgetown.

Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill [News Room photo/ November 4, 2020]
Virgin Atlantic signalled its interest in the Guyana market in 2019.

In August, Virgin Atlantic filed for Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in that country in August, seeking protection from creditors.  When asked about this on Wednesday, Minister Edghill said: “When we make the final decision, the due diligence, compliance with regulations and ensuring Guyana is never at risk, all of that will be a part of the finalisation.”

The Canadian based WestJet was operating repatriation flights to and from Guyana earlier this year.

One of the regional airlines, Suriname’s Fly All Ways had launched its flights to Guyana in 2016, but without sufficient customers, they departed within a year.

InterCaribbean Airways, on the other hand, was touted to take up some destinations following LIAT’s financial issues. As Guyana looks to welcome more airlines, efforts are also being made to upgrade the regional airstrips to accept international flights.

The Minister announced that the finalisation of a design and plan is ongoing to upgrade the Lethem aerodrome in Region Nine.

“We could duplicate Ogle at Lethem,” he said, adding that flights from around the region should be able to operate from Lethem.

Edghill also noted that there is a heliport being constructed at Lusignan on the East Coast of Demerara, which will eventually reach the new GCCA board for approval and licensing.

According to the Minister, the owner of the heliport is in negotiations with ExxonMobil to make the facility accessible to the US oil major for offshore operations.

“Quite recently, someone came to see me about opening up an airstrip at Orealla [in Region Eight]. People will like to partner for the development of the airstrip at Linden [Region Ten].”

Further, Minister Edghill disclosed that international franchise holders have also expressed an interest in opening hotels here. He did not name the hotels, but noted that two of them have asked to construct buildings close to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).

“The intent is that we should have at least 2,000 first class rooms so that Guyana could become a convention destination.

“My office has received two proposals that were submitted to the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce where two of those persons have expressed interest in building hotels at the Timehri International Airport,” Minister Edghill noted.

The Chairman of the new GCAA board is Javed Shadick and the other members are Fazad Khan, Prema Roopnarine, Reamesh Seebarran, Lt. Col. Courtney Byrne, Buleah Williams, Jerome Khan, Chief Executive Officer of the CJIA, Ramesh Ghir and Director General of the aviation authority, Egbert Field.

The directors were charged to ensure all operators act in accordance with the rules and regulations which govern the sector.

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