By Kemol King
Garvin Madera, Chief Executive Officer of Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) has indicated that the carrier is currently in talks with the necessary stakeholders to establish a local base, through which they can provide flight services directly from Guyana. This was revealed yesterday at a joint press conference between the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and Caribbean Airlines, at the PSC’s office on Waterloo Street.
Madera said that current regulations on air transport prevent the carrier from taking such action. He explained that the carrier has been facing the inconvenience of routing flights from Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and back. He noted that this issue has often resulted in passenger flights often being detained in transit. To remedy this, CAL has had discussions with the Government, the Private Sector Commission and other relevant stakeholders.
Originating flights has always been the most pressing issue faced by the airline, but the CEO said that the prospect of establishing a local base seems to be inevitable, as the airline has the complete support of the private sector.
These efforts are part of a wider bracket of aviation issues that the airline intends to work on with Guyana, as they are currently working on becoming the first major carrier to join Guyana’s National Air Transport Association (NATA).
President of NATA, Captain Gerry Gouveia, informed those gathered that the association is for the purpose of addressing technical issues of airspace management, weather reporting, air traffic control, compliance with air transport regulations and other issues that intersect with that line of service.
He said that he also expects Aruba Airlines and Suriname Airways to join the association. It was also explained that the association is open to individual aviation professionals, such as engineers, pilots and other individuals licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority, since all professionals would be able to provide some amount of expertise to examine the country’s needs from a technical standpoint.
Gouveia emphasised that Caribbean Airlines has been dedicated to providing quality to service to Guyana, even while facing a range of criticisms, which he believes to be unfair. Gouveia said that the carrier, “at times, has been the only bridge connecting us with the Caribbean and the rest of the world”.
He told Madera that he hopes Caribbean Airlines will continue to provide service to Guyana, “when our oncoming economic boom” brings competition from other international carriers. Madera indicated that the carrier welcomes a more competitive market and will continue to provide service to Guyanese.
The Private Sector Commission, NATA and Caribbean Airlines have been in continuous talks to advocate for “local content”, according to Gouveia, to be respected by carriers. He noted that, while the airline employs many Guyanese professionals in their “back offices”, the airline still leaves much to be desired with regards to the employment of Guyanese pilots and flight attendants.
Madera indicated that the ‘Caribbean Café’, which was recently launched by Caribbean Airlines is for the purpose of showcasing locally manufactured products on aircraft, with the intention of having the customer experience represent what they are accustomed to in their respective home countries.
Madera indicated that Caribbean Airlines has been adapting its service to suit customer needs, and has been taking up the mandate of filling gaps in regional travel. Asked whether Guyanese could expect more attractive rates from the carrier, Madera said that the airline is currently focusing on improving the customer experience so that customers get more value for their money.
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