TIMEHRI, Guyana (Thursday, December 9, 2021) — Passengers passing through the Cheddi Jagan International Airport have doubled in 2021, when compared to 2020, the airport’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ramesh Ghir, said yesterday.
The airport saw increases, despite the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, which almost crippled the travel industry, last year.
“Based on the numbers we have had so far, we have had an increase in travel. This year, we have done 326,000 passengers, which is 100 percent increase over last year. I know last year we were closed, but we are at about 60 percent of the traffic we did in 2019,” Ghir revealed.
He said, as the festive season rolls in, that number is expected to increase, as more passengers will be passing through the airport.
“We have also had additional airlift, with 93 percent increase in aircraft movement, which is about 4,100 aircraft movements. Looking forward to the season, American Airlines, they have two daily flights, one to JFK, one to Miami. COPA has four flights weekly; JetBlue goes to New York and they have a daily flight.
“On December 17, we are going to have InterCaribbean Airways and they are bringing an additional 12 flights per week, from Georgetown to Barbados, so that will help to bring capacity; and Suriname Airways, they carry two flights per week,” the CEO explained.
However, he said safety of passengers and employees remains a high priority, adding that CJIA was accredited with a certificate of high standards in safety measures, over a year ago.
“We have applied for the renewal, because you have to show evidence that you are sustaining and you are meeting the new requirements. We expect, within the next few days, to receive our renewed certification.
“So, from the airport perspective, in terms of our responsibility to the employees, the airport users, as well as the travelling public, we are maintaining and keeping those standards, which were outlined by the ICAO and IATA,” the CEO stated.
Some of the requirements for travelling to Guyana includes the submission of a negative molecular biological polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result, recorded within 24-72 hours, prior to arrival. Antibody tests, rapid tests or antigen tests will not be accepted.
Travellers are also required to wear a mask, at all times, during the arrival process, up to and including departure from the airport.
Meanwhile, the multi-million-dollar upgrade to the airport, which was split into three parts and is separate from the ongoing modernisation works being undertaken by China Harbour Engineering Corporation (CHEC), is moving apace, CEO Ghir noted.
The CEO added that efforts are being made to have the construction of the $513.7 million airline office building completed on time, to house the duty-free bond, a conference room, offices for the airlines and other supporting agencies.
“To date, we have started work. The foundation is about 80 percent complete, but the overall project is slightly behind schedule. Minister (Deodat) Indar would have visited and expressed some concern with the project, but we are working, closely with the contractors, to meet the deadline for that project,” he said.
The construction of the airline office building paves the way for more upgrades to CJIA, and the CEO disclosed that talks with foreign investors have already commenced, to kick-start the process.
Ghir explained that, “with that new building, we are able to free up more space into the existing terminal building, because maybe half of the staff is housed in the terminal. That now translates itself into concession space.”
“The look-ahead and, based on the numbers that we have, within a decade, we will need a second terminal. So, His Excellency (Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali), has actually pulled together that meeting and asked us to meet with investors. We have identified an area for a second terminal building, which is going to be very modern,” he further added.
The CEO also noted that the design for the construction of a new office building is completed. The next step is to go to tender for the selection of a contractor. That project costs some $25 million.
Additionally, Ghir said the construction of the $38 million international apron and the taxiway, Charlie, should be completed within two weeks.