…as nation edges closer to Category One Status at airport –PM Nagamootoo
Guyana must and will have the return of a national Air Carrier even as the nation edges towards receipt of a Category One Status for the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
These were among the sentiments expressed by Prime Minister and First Vice President, Moses Nagamootoo, as he opened the first ever locally held Aviation Conference, held under the auspices of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
Hosted at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, the activity saw a convergence of the local aviation fraternity in a bid to chart a course forward for the development of the industry.
Before declaring the conference open, the Prime Minister used the opportunity to recall the days when Guyana did have a National Airline of its own and spoke to the inherent benefits.
“Guyana must and will have a return to (of) its national airline,” said Nagamootoo, a sentiment that evoked a thunderous applause from those gathered.
Nagamootoo who also served once as Director of the failed airline said that its fate should not be seen as a hurdle but rather a challenge.
Private Sector Support
Cognizant of the financial challenges facing the industry, the Prime Minister made an appeal to the private sector “to come on board and to see the realization of this Guyana dream.”
The Prime Minister also spoke of the importance of the industry to the nation and national development. He pointed to days gone by, when larger aircraft serviced the interior locations transporting agricultural produce to the main land.
“Aviation in Guyana has become a part of our everyday life,” said Nagamootoo.
He said too that while the aviation sector serves as a critical lifeline for Guyana with the rest of the world and its interior, it is also a pivotal sector to the expansion of the local mining industry as well as the budding tourism industry.
He said, too, that while the benefits of the aviation industry are well known, it must be recognized that the situation requires much resources for the further development of the industry.
“I know our business partners, namely the Private Aircraft Owners of Guyana have been investing abundantly in aviation,” Nagamootoo acknowledged, even as he called for greater partnership and even more investment in the sector.
Expanding on the development of the aviation sector, Prime Minister Nagamootoo underscored the fact that investments in new aircraft are not the only requirements.
“It needs aviation security in the broader sense which includes safety, technology and synergies. I therefore welcome this forum as both timely and necessary,” the Prime Minister said.
He said that Guyana’s safety and oversight capability “needs to match the growth that we are witnessing in the industry.”
He pointed to the fact that there is need for a revamping of the legislative and regulatory framework governing the industry locally.
Institutional strengthening and capacity building, according to Nagamootoo, are needed urgently.
“There is unquestionably much work to be done in this regard,” said Nagamootoo.
On the matter of Guyana’s obligations under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Guyana is not on par with its regional counterparts.
This, he said, needs to be urgently addressed.
The Prime Minister was adamant also that in charting a course forward for the aviation sector there needs to be greater focus on the use of emerging technology.
“There is technology that is available to improve the efficiency of our airports and our air navigation services.”
The Prime Minister said that while reviewing the security sector recently, the use of drones was highlighted.
“During discussions with relevant United Nations agencies, we were introduced to the idea of the use of drones,” said Nagamootoo.
He observed that in Guyana on some occasions search and rescue can prove to be extremely difficult given the nation’s terrain.
“This technology (drones) which has come under critical focus in situations of conflict can be put to use for surveys, research, monitoring of our coastline as well as search and rescue and other peaceful purposes.”
Ahead of the opening of yesterday’s aviation conference, Minister with responsibility for the sector, Annette Ferguson, addressed the gathering and pointed to areas of critical importance that requires immediate attention.
She spoke to the weak regulatory regime in place, the shortage of skills locally, no national airline, the state of the interior aerodromes and the lacking legislative framework, among other challenges.
She said while the aviation sector’s contribution to the local Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is unknown, the industry does employ in excess of 3,000 persons locally in addition to the numerous intangible benefits.
As Minister with responsibility for the local aviation sector, she spoke to Guyana’s efforts in meeting its international obligations and said while she could not give a time-line the nation is on track to receiving its Category One Status for its international airport.
It was pointed out that funding was approved in the 2015 Budget to help in meeting Guyana’s obligations on this front.
Yesterday’s activity also benefitted from presentations by Regional and International Representatives.
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