Gouveia announces US$18M five-year investment as Roraima turns 20

– new aircraft, Timehri hotel on the cards

The acquisition of a new aircraft, the erection of a new hotel at Timehri and the installation of an ultra-modern industrial kitchen at the company’s Duke Lodge Hotel are some of the elements of an investment in the “ongoing consolidation” of Roraima Airways Inc, which the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Captain Gerry Gouveia, says will cost approximately US$18 million over the next five years.

“What we have in hand at this time is a five-year plan that looks at the development of most of the key entities in the Roraima Group. We are aiming to develop our company in a direction that is consistent with the direction in which the country’s economy is going,” Gouveia told Stabroek Business.

Roraima’s Ogle operation

In an exclusive interview with this newspaper which coincides with the unfolding of a programme of activities to mark the company’s 20th anniversary, Gouveia said the acquisition of a new aircraft was part of an approximately US$10 million investment that includes the upgrading of the company’s hangar and office operations at Ogle. Gouveia said plans for the further shoring up of the aviation services’ capacity of the company will also see it investing approximately US$500,000 in its Timehri ground-handling operations.

Upgrading projects associated with the company’s Roraima Duke Lodge asset include the addition of a further 30 rooms to the facility, a project which the company’s Chief Executive Officer told Stabroek Business will cost the company US$2.5 million. Gouveia said other projects associated with Duke Lodge, which are part of the company’s five-year programme include the construction of a new banqueting hall and conference facilities at a cost of US$500,000 and the installation of a new industrial kitchen at a cost of around US$400,000.

Gouveia told Stabroek Business that the company’s multi-million-dollar investment initiative was intended to take its operations “to a higher level”. He said the enhancements being undertaken at Duke Lodge were “essentially a response to my recognition of the need to qualitatively enhance our hospitality services and provide the kinds of facilities that would attract more guests to our facilities.” He said the focus on acquiring a new aircraft and shoring up facilities at both Ogle and Timehri was “reflective of a recognition that Guyana’s aviation sector had come of age” and that investment in an enhanced service was necessary.

Gouveia said the company’s decision to undertake such a significant investment, “has everything to do with our faith in Guyana, the economy and the tourism industry. We are fortunate to be working with a commercial banking system that includes Republic Bank which affords the business sector the opportunity to make meaningful investments in the Guyana economy.”

The industrial kitchen being installed at the Roraima Duke Lodge

According to Gouveia, the company was gearing itself to “enter a new phase” with the hands-on involvement in the management of Roraima Airways of his two sons, Kevin and Gerry (Jr), both of whom currently reside in Canada. “Our plan has always been for them to return to help manage Roraima and we are moving closer to that stage. My older son, Kevin, is a qualified pilot who has just begun to serve with the Canadian Air Force. My younger son, who is also flying, is likely to be coming into the company in the hospitality sector,” he added.

Since its establishment in 1992, Roraima Airways has been an aggressive investor in the hospitality sector. “What we have been doing, primarily, is selling services. It’s been a challenge since much of what we offer is not tangible and that very often makes quality more difficult. I believe that one of our consummate accomplishments as a company is the fact that we have been able to meet and in many cases surpass those intangible standards,” Gouveia told Stabroek Business.

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