Guyana/Suriname ink open skies agreement in record time
As the world observes International Civil Aviation Day, Guyana and Suriname have signed an open skies air services agreement, removing several restrictions that were placed on travel between the two countries previously.
Director-General of Guyana’s Civil Aviation Authority, Egbert Field said the agreement was finalised within one week due to the dedicated work of technical officers and political will on both sides.
“In my 50 years in aviation, I have never seen this type of agreement finalised this quick,” he said while pointing out that such agreements usually take a year or more to be finalised.
The agreement was signed by Guyana’s Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill and Suriname’s Minister of Transport, Communication, and Tourism, Albert Jubithana as the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown.
Edghill also pointed out that discussions on the agreement started during his recent visit to Suriname for its 45th Independence celebrations.
Among its features, the agreement removes all restrictions on capacity and frequency for cargo to and from Suriname and Guyana. It also specifies arrangements for dry and wet leases and seeks to offer a level playing field to both countries.
Edghill said this is a proud way for Guyana and Suriname to celebrate International Civil Aviation day.
“What we are doing is putting words into action and this agreement is truly a historic agreement and it is an unimpeded move to ensure there is collaboration between both countries… we must be able to operate flights within CARICOM and outside of CARICOM,” he added.
Edghill said that the agreement also removes all restrictions on market access, capacity and pricing to create an open market and give route rights to respective airlines.
“It is complementary to the CARICOM multilateral air services agreement… which is important for strategy and policy in making Guyana hub for air travel,” he noted.
Edghill pointed out that Suriname has good connectivity to Europe and the Dutch Caribbean while Guyana offers connectivity to North America and the English-speaking Caribbean.
“The ultimate beneficiaries are our people, being able to travel in ease and in a cost-effective manner.”
Meanwhile, Suriname’s Jubithana, who has travelled to Guyana for one day with a seven-member delegation, said the signing of the agreement is a direct result of commitments of Presidents Irfaan Ali and Chandrikapersad Santokhi.
“Within 10 days we have prepared everything regarding the open skies agreement and today we sign this agreement,” he said while also acknowledging the record time in which the agreement was finalised.
Jubithana said the open skies agreement is one of the two countries’ “far most agreement” offering connectivity for communities, creating economic growth, and contributing to sustainable development on both sides.
“The Government of Suriname has set national priorities and allocated resources towards the development of agreements and a legislature that meets the needs,” he added.
Since a change in government in both Suriname and Guyana this year, the two sides have been working aggressively to strengthen relations.
Suriname’s Santokhi was the honoured guest in Guyana for President’s Ali inauguration while Dr. Ali recently visited Suriname for its 45th Independence celebrations.
During both travels, the two sides held bilateral discussions on improving relations. Already Guyana and Suriname have finalised agreements for the construction of the Corentyne River Bridge and enhanced dialogue.