Delta confirms Guyana pull-out, cites poor performance of route

Delta Airlines yesterday confirmed that it will no longer offer its service to Guyana effective May 6th of this year.

“Delta Airlines will close its station in Georgetown, Guyana discontinuing flights between the John F. Kennedy International Airport and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, effective    May 6th, 2013 due to poor performance of the route”, Sarah Lora, General Manager, Corporate Communica-tions in Latin America and Caribbean told Stabroek News yesterday.

“Although Delta would prefer to continue serving the market, flights between Georgetown and New York’s JFK International Airport have experienced a significant decline in passenger loads and revenues for the past 18 months, leading to unsustainable losses. We have made the difficult decision to eliminate our Georgetown service to better focus our resources on profitable markets”, Lora went on to state.

She added that Delta will make contact with customers booked on their flights for after May 6th and arrange alternative transport or full refunds.

Delta is asking that customers from Guyana call its 1-800-221-1212 number and for others to use 1-800-241-4141.

Delta’s exit is a blow for airlift into the country following the collapse of  EZjet last year which had also serviced the New York to Georgetown route. The departure of Delta leaves Caribbean Airlines – recently named as Guyana’s flag carrier – with a monopoly on the route. Whenever a monopoly has occurred in the past, airfares have tended to move up.

Delta has been running direct flights from Guyana to New York Since 2008.

Asked for government’s perspective  on Delta’s decision, Tourism Minister Irfaan Ali yesterday said that government had been in discussions with Delta on their contention about passenger load.

“The last communication we had with officials from Delta I had asked that they submit a proposal to the government as to ways in which they think we intervene …this press release they sent out about load … cannot be the case because they have had an increase in load from the day they started to now. In January of this year they had 89%. It cannot be a load issue.

The communication we were having with them, load was not identified as a factor. We are going to continue to engage them because we know how important an airline like Delta is to the market and we are still awaiting their proposal.”

On the question of whether giving CAL  flag carrier status and having EZJet  with such low fares had had an impact on Delta, Ali said: “I don’t see how Delta airline was at a disadvantage… there was some amount  of competition in the market.

But for most of the time there was a fair pricing mechanism … the fact of the matter there will be competition in the air industry …I think Delta pulled out of Trinidad some time ago …I think what we need is more capacity”.

Ali said that Delta had raised concerns about the fuel price in discussions with the government.

“… what they raised I know they have raised concerns about the cost of operation and fuel is a main part of the operating cost  … as compared to an airline that has to pay the fuel price compared to the subsidy that is given by Trinidad and Tobago that would add to some amount of disadvantage  yes but that is a matter that Caricom may have to deal with…I don’t want to pronounce in detail on it now, nobody has officially made out a case  …but if there is a case in terms of unfair completion as a result of the  subsidy that is derived for fuel for one carrier thus creating /uneven unfair competition then I think a case can be made our in terms of airfare”.

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