… more training, legislation, regulation overhaul required first
At least two airlines are hoping to fly directly to the US but Guyana-owned craft does not yet meet the requirements.
According to Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Zulficar Mohamed, Wings Aviation and FlyGT Airline, the latter owned by a number of former Guyana Airways Corporation (GAC) pilots, have applications in operations.
However, for a while now, the US has labeled Guyana under Category Two, which simply meant that the country could not have a locally owned airline operation and flying to that country.
For Guyana to regain the Category One status, which it held under GAC several years ago, more regulations and training to meet US standards must be done, the aviation official disclosed last week during the Ministry of Public Works’ year-end review.
For the US to green light a Category One status, it may take at least a year, the official said. But this does not mean that the local airlines could not fly regionally in the meantime.
Guyana may have to spend in excess of $200M to regain the status, it was disclosed last week Friday.
According to Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn, whose portfolios include aviation, government is examining the issue but it was unclear whether that could happen this year under the budget due out next month.
Already authorities have started work to correct some of the shortcomings including laws. But Guyana is short on flight operation inspectors with GCAA forced to turn to other regional countries for help through the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System (CASSOS).
According to Mohamed, over the past year, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) conducted audits in Guyana last year and while there were no immediate major concerns, it recommended some improvements.
Regarding the operations of GCAA, Mohamed said that almost $900M is being spent to upgrade the almost obsolete equipment at CJIA and Ogle Airport.
These include the installation of a Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Radio Range (VOR), new installation landing systems, the rehabilitation of the control tower and electrical system, among other things.
In 2009, several training sessions including search and rescue sessions were held with the industry acquiring six air traffic controllers who recently graduated.
In terms of new applications, in addition to Wings Aviation and FlyGT, local operators including Air Services Limited and Trans Guyana Aviation were approved for more caravans with Oxford Aviation being approved to conduct flights locally.
There were also no fatalities but there was one aircraft that sustained a broken wheel on landing.
In addition, 54 local aerodromes along with six government-owned facilities were certified, the GCAA official disclosed.
GCAA would have also earned $449M in revenue, more than $100M than the $341M in 2009.
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