Mining industry encouraging flight operations – GCAA Director
Although the operations of two international aircraft services – EZjet and RedJet – folded during the past year, a number of prospective operators have signalled their intent to join flight operating activities here.
At least this is according to Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Zulficar Mohamed. He was at the time giving an update on the performance of the aviation sector during the past year even as he highlighted plans for this year at a Public Works Ministry press conference last week.
As it relates to international flight operations, Mohamed told a gathering of media operatives that Fly Jamaica has indicated its interest, while in the local flight market, a number of nationals have been applying to operate aircraft.
Speaking to the number of locals applying to operate, Mohamed said “it may be as a result of the mining industry development and other developments in the interior.”
With the vibrant interest being exhibited, the Director General is optimistic that this year will prove to be a very productive one in terms of aircraft operations.
During the past year, he said, there was an 11 per cent increase in terms of aircraft operations. However he noted that a 30 per cent increase was recorded in the area of international over-flights.
It was highlighted that over-flights are responsible for the bulk of the revenue that was earned.
“Most of our revenue comes from the international over-flight operations and it is good to say we have had an increase during 2012 of 20.25 per cent in our revenue while our expenditure went up by 6.2 per cent,” he informed.
Turning his attention to airport infrastructure, Mohamed said that capital projects from last year are still ongoing, even as he disclosed that Government has already budgeted for the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast System (ADS-B).
“They have also included the category one which is required, because it not only involves the acquisition of the requisite staffing, but we have to review our regulations as well as the Act and put other systems in place. We are looking forward to 2013 in terms of getting that done, but it is not going to be done within a year. It is probably going to take longer, but we are hoping to start the process.”
In relation to aviation security, Mohamed said that the Cheddi Jagan International Airport as well as the Ogle Airport have been scrutinised, with close attention being paid in the past year to stakeholders, among them LIAT, Delta and Caribbean Airlines among other handling service entities.
“We have found them to be compliant, although there were some minor issues, but all of those would have been resolved,” he added.
Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) has since been designated the local flag carrier by the Government, a status which according to Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn, is not an exclusive right. He explained that the status could be granted to more than one airline, even as he disclosed that CAL was among others that had requested flag carrier status.
“CAL in spite of all the criticisms and the quarrels about their high prices and changes in scheduling has seen solid performance in terms of airlift to Guyana over the years and we belong to a Caribbean Community. We don’t have a direct investment in the airline at this time, but Guyanese represent a significant portion of the CAL airlift,” said the Minister, who stressed that Caribbean Airlines has proven to be an enduring airline although “they had their problems over the years.”
According to the Minister, with the flag carrier status, the airline’s operation is expected to become more efficient and cost effective to passengers.
The development comes even as the plans are being streamlined to celebrate 100 years of aviation in Guyana. Commemorative activities, according to Mohamed, are set to commence in the last week of March.