President Donald Ramotar has dismissed media reports that Delta Airlines was forced out of Guyana because former President Bharrat Jagdeo was subjected to baggage checks by the airline and insisted that Government would like the airline to continue its operation out of Georgetown.
Jagdeo’s luggage had apparently been searched while he was a passenger on Delta and this had led to suggestions in some quarters that it was in some way responsible for the airline’s imminent departure. Delta’s last flight will be on May 6th.
The Government Informa-tion Agency (GINA) reported yesterday that during a press conference on Saturday at the Miami Hilton in Miami, USA, the President said that at no time did the Guyana Government move to have Delta out of Guyana.
“Guyana is asking them to stay… we would very much like them to stay, because it’s a reputable airline. So it has nothing to do with us asking them to leave….that is not true, I could assure you that that has no basis,” GINA quoted the President as saying.
Further, the President dismissed claims that Delta was pulling out of Guyana, because of poor passenger loads.
“The reason why Delta is pulling out cannot be because of the shortage of people travelling, because Delta had … from the time they started, they have been first in the 70s (percentage) and over the last few years, they have been in the 80 percent of being filled, so it’s a very good route,” GINA quoted the President as saying.
According to the release, the President said that he has had no official word from Delta on their cancellation of the Georgetown-New York route. He also dismissed talk of a pricing war with Caribbean Airlines as rumours. “When asked if Guyana is in discussions with other Caribbean countries to create a regional airline, the Head of State said that there have been such talks. However, that does not seem like an immediate move, even though those discussions are taking place,” the release said.
GINA said that in responding to questions as to why there is a wider use of Caribbean Airlines by Guyanese, President Ramotar said “Well you know Caribbean Airlines, of course. They have a long relationship with Guyana, They have been working there a long time, and recently when we had the folding-up of EZjet, Caribbean Airlines was very helpful in coming and taking up the slack, regarding the EZJet situation…so we have a good relationship with Caribbean Airlines as I said they have been working in Guyana for a number of years and we value that relationship,” he said.
On Saturday as well Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn rejected Delta’s rationale for leaving. “The statistics show that since its inaugural flight in June 2008, Delta Airlines has benefitted from the support of the travelling public to the extent that it enjoyed the highest payload for all airlines operating at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) at Timehri,” the release said.