Naming Caribbean Airlines (CAL) Guyana’s flag carrier caught everyone by surprise. This is a major decision for any nation which was done in haste, is shrouded in secrecy and lacks transparency. The pros and cons were never discussed by the Parliament of Guyana. And if it was raised in Parliament, and not approved, the PPP/C regime definitely would have gone ahead and challenged it in court. However, this is not to say that it’s a bad move. Embracing CAL could very well be a good thing for Guyana. But it was done with arrogance.
Guyana’s political system lacks institutions to support checks and balances, transparency and an independent judiciary. The country still has an executive president, and although the legislature finally got a one seat majority, most political and civic institutions are controlled by the PPP/C regime. Civil society is still in its infancy. Individuals, the media, and non-governmental agencies criticizing the government are demonized by Freedom House. Guyana is not a liberal democracy. Under these state circumstances, the decision was made to designate CAL Guyana’s flag carrier.
CAL may very well do as it pleases because the Government of Guyana will now protect the North American routes and the POS-GT Bridge. What agreement did the two parties sign? How does this affect Delta and Surinam Airways, and future carriers plying the North American routes? What recourse does the government have if CAL disappoints the Guyanese people?
Were SLM and Delta consulted before this agreement with CAL was made? The PPP/C regime begged SLM to return to Guyana. How does this affect SLM’s plans to expand into Northern Brazil, New York and Toronto from Guyana? LIAT Airways is also looking in the near future to fly to North America.
There is the appearance that CAL was given incentives or offered subsidies. This is a very uneven playing field.
Now one can expect that since CAL is Guyana’s national flag carrier, it will fly from Guyana to Barbados, Bogota, Lima, Quito, Belem, Caracas, Manaus, London, Miami and Paramaribo – Freedom House’s UNASUR dream come true. Rabindra Moonan promised the PPP/C regime more; CAL will station aircraft at the new CJIA terminal, which by the way, from looking at the design, lacks character and architecturally is not at all aesthetically awesome. CAL also promised to fly an ATR to Boa Vista, Manaus, Paramaribo, Barbados and Belem.