GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday, January 10, 2020 (CMC) – The Guyana government said, on Wednesday, that it is not now contemplating granting flag carrier status to the Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Airlines (CAL), even though the carrier has been servicing the route for the “last 60 years”.
Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson, told a news conference that the issue is a complicated matter for Guyana.
“Right now, they do not have a flag carrier status, right now I don’t think we are contemplating it. It is quite difficult for me,” Patterson told reporters.
“First up, let me say that Caribbean Airlines and the precursor, BWIA, have been a faithful service to the Guyanese people for the last 60 years and I would like to commend them for that, and encourage them to continue, as much as possible, but the granting of that status is a complicated issue, because even if it is granted, there is no guarantee that prices will go down,” he said.
In recent days, the issue of pricing has been a major talking point, here, after the Guyana Consumer Affairs Commission, in a report, claimed that the airline was “milking” passengers on the Guyana route with its high prices.
CAL has dismissed the allegation, stating that it has “loyally served” Guyana “for many decades”, even when competitors had pulled out their services.
“We are also frequently cheaper than our competitors, when comparing like-for-like,” CAL said, adding “to pick out a few individual fares, as the article and the report on which it is based, have done, and then suggest that this indicates that the airline is using these fares to subsidise routes elsewhere, demonstrates a limited understanding of how airlines operate in the real world”.
Under the previous government, Caribbean Airlines was granted flag carrier status on the Georgetown-Toronto route, and while direct flights were offered initially, those were eventually replaced by the flights that made a stopover in Trinidad.
Patterson told reporters that CAL is a private organization and the pricing of airline tickets is done by the company and not the government.
He said even though the government could grant concessions and sign agreements with the company, there is still no guarantee that the prices will go down and stay down, even as he acknowledged that airline ticket pricing has been an issue with Guyanese.
Patterson told reporters that on the issue of Guyana owning its own national airline again, the possibility exists, but there will be the need for that to be done, in conjunction with the private sector.
“There is still, I think, an appetite for a national airline, not through government, I wanna make that quite clear, this is probably through a public-private partnership. So it is something that is actively under consideration,” he said.