The government is not obligated to give a subsidy to any airline to keep it in existence, Dr Roger Luncheon said yesterday, adding that such a move would not only demonstrate favouritism but create a precedent that could see all carriers petitioning for the same treatment.
Cabinet Secretary Luncheon was addressing claims by the suspended airline EZjet that government had not done enough for the airline. EZjet was suspended by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and Luncheon yesterday said its “demise” is the result of a failure of regulators.
Luncheon told reporters that giving a subsidy to EZjet would add credence to rumours that government had an administrative or investment role in the airline. He noted that EZjet could not be compared to Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL), which is actually owned by the government of Trinidad and Tobago. “To go further and to engage in specific interventions guaranteed or with the aim of distorting the market, I believe that one had to be careful in drawing a line… Is EZjet saying we should have forced Trinidad to give subsidised fuel, or heavens forbid, Guyana to offer them subsidised fuel? …Then we would have to give everybody else, because if you give EZjet you better believe Delta, Selta, Belta, Melta everybody gonna be knocking at your door,” said Luncheon.
Meanwhile, noting government’s disappointment at the current state of affairs of the airline, especially during the peak travel period and families anticipating reuniting with loved ones during the holidays. “Government is deeply dismayed at this outcome and the outcome of a business that had such [a] promising future… then the roof fell in… disruptions occurred… the demise was a collective failure of regulators,” he said.
“The administration recognises the impact of it, more so at this particular time… and plans to do its level best that those plans do not fail to materialise,” he added.