GEORGETOWN, Guyana, April 30, 2019 (CMC) – Guyana aviation authorities have described as “very unfortunate” criticism, made by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), over the inconvenience being suffered by passengers, because of the manual payment of new airport fees, during departures and arrivals.
In a lengthy statement, the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Corporation (CJIAC) gave its account of the situation, while offering “an open apology to (the) travelling public for the inconvenience being caused”.
In its statement last week, IATA, which is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing an estimated 290 airlines, said it was seeking immediate dialogue with the CJIAC and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, on the implementation process, related to the increase in the government-mandated Airport Security Fee and the introduction of a new Passenger Service charge.
It said the continued refusal, by the airport operator, to cooperate with IATA, on both the proper calculation and implementation of such fees and charges, has now led to a situation, where airlines have been forced to manually collect the additional amounts, from both arriving and departing passengers.
“It is completely unacceptable that passengers are being inconvenienced in such a manner. This is a direct result of the airport management’s refusal to engage with IATA on a process, which is standard practice, across the globe. As a consequence, our member airlines have, unfortunately, no choice other than to manually collect the additional fees and charges,” the statement quoted Peter Cerda, IATA’s Regional Vice President for the Americas, as saying.
But the CJIAC said while the inconvenience is “temporary”, it found that the IATA statement, through its representative, Cerda, “very unfortunate and not reflective of the required engagements between the airport corporation and its stakeholders”.
CJIAC said it had taken note of the quotes, attributed to Cerda, but CJIAC said that it “would like to emphasise that it has no arrangement or agreement with IATA. Its arrangements are with the airlines. Further, there is no contractual arrangement or requirement, between the airlines and CJIAC, which requires CJIAC (to) engage with IATA”.
It added that despite not having any legal obligation to engage IATA, the Airport Corporation responded to many queries, raised by IATA, and even met with its representatives in Canada, on the February 13, 2019.
“Unfortunately, IATA appears to have made it a pre-condition to facilitating the airlines, that CJIAC provide information to them, including the presentation CJIAC made to its Board or line Ministry, for the increase of fees so that they could better understand the reason for the fee increase.
“No customer airline has requested the information, sought by IATA, and generally appear to be disinterested in their requests. IATA, without any cloak or shroud of legitimacy, is demanding that CJIAC make what can only be characterized as an airport fee application filing to them, providing full justification and explanation of the basis on which the fees have been determined.
“Unfortunately, CJIAC is a public corporation and its officers and employees are prohibited, at penalty of law, from amongst other things, providing information to entities for the purposes of certifying the basis on which the corporation determined the fees it would charge. Much less in this case, where there is no legal relationship between IATA and CJIAC.”
The CJIAC said it wanted to take the opportunity to assure the travelling public that there is no legal requirement for it to make an application to IATA, for the introduction or increase in airport fees, adding “further, there is no legal requirement that CJIAC provide the information, requested by IATA”.
But it said this notwithstanding, it has engaged with IATA “as a matter of courtesy on numerous occasions.
“Indeed, when CJIAC and GRA [Guyana Revenue Authority] disbanded the tax collection booth in the check in area, which incidentally was accompanied by a small fee increase, there was no insistence on justification coming from IATA.”
The CJIAC later detailed the correspondence between itself and the IATA, adding that the “decisions of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Corporation are guided by the Public Corporations Act, the CJIAC Order, relevant ICAO recommendations, and the Air Carrier Agreements, between the Airport and the airlines.
“It is clear from the position taken by IATA, that they are unaware of laws and agreements, by which the airport is bound,” the CJIAC said.