Win for Guyana, St. Lucia & the UK as British Airways recommences flights
St Lucia’s Minister for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information, Ernest Hilaire said the return of British Airways to the Guyana – United Kingdom (UK) route is a win for Caribbean integration as he joined Guyanese authorities for the inaugural flight at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timerhi on Monday.
“We came to celebrate you receiving this flight… I cannot recall a direct flight from Guyana to St Lucia, so just like this is a milestone for you, the flight returning is a milestone of St Lucia,” Hilaire said as he pointed to the new possibilities for people-to-people and tourism exchanges.
Similar sentiments were also expressed by British High Commissioner to Guyana who said not only is the inaugural flight the culmination of hard work at the business and diplomatic levels but also a personal win for so many people.
“It feels transformational. It’s a huge step for me both personally and professionally,” she said during brief remarks.
The long anticipated British Airways touched down at the CJIA just after 18:00hrs and spent two hours on the ground before jetting off to St. Lucia with well over 200 passengers using its 777-200ER aircraft.
The airline will service the route twice weekly with one stop in St Lucia.
Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, while delivering remarks at a welcoming ceremony, reflected on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Guyana’s aviation industry, chronicling the transition from that dire state to the continuous advancement in the sector.
“We are growing. And we will continue to grow. So, there are two things we’re doing. We’re expanding facilities at the airport, and we are growing routes,” the public works minister said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Minister within the Public Works ministry, Deodat Indar, who added that government’s aggressive policy-driven approach to development and heavy investments are seeing hordes of people coming into Guyana.
Minister Indar noted, “Guyanese should be proud that what we have now is an environment that can bring more aircraft from different destinations. For an investment decision to fly the Guyana route, it took some amount of doing, some amount of calculation, and some amount of confidence in Guyana, and I am hoping that other airways follow suit as British Airways did to fly this route.”
This further enhances the country’s connectivity to the Caribbean and the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond said that the introduction of the flights presents a myriad of opportunities for Guyana, including those for additional partnerships.
She said, “Connecting the world to Guyana remains a priority of this government. We see Guyana as an active part of a global travel network, and we are continually engaging major airlines with a view to encouraging them to serve this destination. Our pursuit of airline connectivity is part of a wider strategic economic objective to make Guyana easily and affordably accessible to all business in all sectors, including the leisure and pleasure travel sector.”
The direct flights are prefaced by the visa-free travel to the United Kingdom, announced late last year. This move to further strengthen government-to-government and people-to-people relations allows for Guyanese to visit the UK for up to 180 days or six months without the requirement of a visitor’s visa.
Indian High Commissioner, K.J Srinivasa, United Kingdom Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign, Commonwealth, & Development Office, David Rutley, Chairman of the CJIA board, Sanjeev Datadin, and CEO, Ramesh Ghir were also in attendance.
This is indeed phenomenal regionally and internationally and another transformational development activity in Guyana .