By Isanella Patoir
Of the 1,100 passengers who have tested for COVID-19 upon their arrival at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), six are positive.
The CJIA re-opened its doors to regional and commercial fights on October 12. Public Relations Officer of the CJIA, Shunza Samuels told the News Room on Friday that, “approximately 1, 100 arriving passengers were retested since the [CJIA] officially reopened, so this is about 23% of arriving passengers.”
Samuels said she cannot reveal which countries the positive cases are from as she cited confidentiality.
The News Room has been unable to verify whether any positive cases originated at the Eugene F. Correia International Airport.
Passengers, who provide a negative PCR COVID-19 test which was done within four to seven days upon their arrival here, have to undergo another test at the airports when they land. The passengers are required to isolate at home until they receive their results within 24hours.
A payment of US$85 or GY$17, 760 is required for the test but some passengers have been objecting to paying, according to Director-General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, Egbert Field.
During an interview with the News Room, Field explained that the passengers are claiming that they were not aware of the testing upon arrival or that they do not have money.
“One of the challenges is some of the passengers who had to pay for test on arrival claim that they didn’t have money to pay for the test and they didn’t know that they had to do the test, but we are making sure that the testing on arrival is properly advertised.
“…and they are not many; let’s say two or more persons on a flight have objections to paying,” Field said.
The aviation expert further explained that for future passengers who refuse to pay and do not adhere to the protocols at the airport, it will result in severe consequences, such as being put on the no-fly list.
Meanwhile, with the reopening of the airports to regional and commercial flights, the local aviation industry is slowly recovering. Noting that the industry suffered billions of dollars in losses since its closure in March to curb the spread of the deadly new Coronavirus, Field said the recovery will happen in stages.
“The industry has been doing well but it is a slow recovery because some of the airlines have got to get themselves in gear, that is preparing for their own start up and training their people, but it has recovered after the first week where now, we have all the airlines operating into Guyana – those that used to operate before,” Field said.
According to Field, the passenger traffic increased to over 7,000 since the airports reopened and this number is expected to double by the end of the year after a review of bookings with the various airlines.
The airlines currently operating are Caribbean, Eastern, American and Copa Airlines with JetBlue scheduled to begin operations on December 11.
Meanwhile, President of the Tourism and Hospitality Association (THAG), Mitra Ramkumar, explained that the almost 200 persons who were laid off from Roraima Airways when the airports closed are now being rehired.
“When COVID-19 hit and the airports were shut down, we have had to put almost 200 staff on no pay leave or lay off. Since the reopening of the airports, we have already began rehiring prior to opening so that we ramp up for the re-opening.
“These persons are now able to come back out to work, all of these persons who would have been working at the airport pre-COVID-19 are back on the job now,” Ramkumar explained.
A strict monitoring and quality survey is being done to ensure adherence to the COVID-19 measures at the airports.