A virtual stand-off between the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) and
Trinidad-owned Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) over the purchase of duty-free liquor has been resolved, following a high-level meeting yesterday.
CJIA last week threatened to cancel the operating licence of CAL after a spike in complaints by passengers from Guyana who said that they were not being allowed to take duty free liquor bought in Guyana on North American flights that transit in Trinidad.
According to a joint statement of the two entities, top officials of CJIA; the Chairman and Executive Management of CAL and representatives from the civil aviation authorities of Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, met in Guyana yesterday to explore solutions to the issue currently affecting transit passengers who purchase duty free.
“The duty free issue arose as Caribbean Airlines is an international air carrier, and must comply with all regulatory directives of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) which governs the security processes and conducts audits for all carriers flying into the United States of America,” the statement said.
It was disclosed that after detailed discussions to ensure the interests of all stakeholders are met, the teams agreed on a way forward, which would enable transit passengers to once again purchase duty free items, effective today.
“Travellers through a secure process will now be allowed to place their duty free items into their checked luggage. This procedure will not apply to BW 526, which operates non-stop Georgetown to New York.”
According to the details of the new arrangements that were hammered out during the meeting, passengers will be required to indicate their intention to purchase duty free items at the security checkpoint at the entrance to the airport, and again at the Caribbean Airlines check-in counter, before making their way to the duty-free shops.
“Once the purchases are made, the purchaser will be escorted by security personnel to the baggage area in order to place the items in their checked luggage.”
The statement said that the process will be closely supervised by security and airport personnel, and will be conducted in the full view of cameras.
Passengers will have one hour to complete duty free purchases before scheduled departure to ensure sufficient time for the new procedure
According to officials of CJIA, in the statement, they are pleased with outcome of the meeting which has resulted in the immediate implementation of a new procedure.
“We expect that over time the process will be refined, however, the important thing is that we have found a workable solution which positively impacts travellers from Cheddi Jagan International Airport who wish to purchase duty free items, but who must transit other airports to get to their final destination.”
Phillip Marshall, Chairman of Caribbean Airlines stated: “This issue is one of national and regional significance and Guyana is an important destination for Caribbean Airlines. We remain committed to our loyal Guyanese customers whom we have consistently served with reliable service since our start in 2007.
“Today’s meeting has enabled the CJIA and Caribbean Airlines to achieve a solution to this issue which ensures that Caribbean Airlines remains compliant with the TSA regulations and continues to provide quality service to our valued customers.”
Following the successful resolution of the duty free issue, CJIA officially withdrew the warning issued to Caribbean Airlines, to cancel the Air Carrier Agreement, if the airline failed to comply with the procedure proposed by the CJIA.
“The Civil Aviation Authorities of Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago also re-affirmed their commitment to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two authorities. Under the MOU, passengers originating from Guyana and connecting on other Caribbean Airlines’ services will not be re-screened at Piarco International Airport.”
Operators of a number of duty free shop operators at CJIA have been complaining about a drop in business.
Passengers who came in especially for the Jubilee celebrations have complained that thousands of dollars worth in liquor were taken away by Trinidad airport authorities. Some frustrated passengers even reportedly broke their bottles rather than give them up.
Caribbean Airlines operates more than 600 weekly flights to 18 destinations in the Caribbean and North and South America.
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