Delta Airlines has dismissed claims that its decision to withdraw its services from Guyana was influenced in anyway by complaints from former president Bharat Jagdeo and a source close to him has dismissed the suggestion as preposterous.
“The difficult decision that Delta Airlines made was based exclusively on our financial results with no other factors playing a role,” Sara Lora, Delta’s Corporate Communications Manager for Latin America and Caribbean, told Stabroek News.
Jagdeo’s luggage had been searched while he was a passenger on Delta some months ago 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 6.
A source close to Jagdeo, however, brushed off suggestions that he was upset that Delta Airlines had searched his bag on an outgoing flight, informing that before the search was conducted the former head-of-state was informed that it was a random TSA search and he complied fully.
The source made reference to the many times that the then president travelled out of Guyana to the USA and other destinations as “an ordinary passenger” waiving his diplomatic rights and underwent stipulated checks as required by regular passengers. The source said that Jagdeo chose this method for his travels instead of enforcing his diplomatic immunity, since at times that process can be more tedious.
This newspaper was also told that Jagdeo found the claims that he was responsible for Delta withdrawal humourous and joked at the stretch some persons would go to sensationalise a story.
Last week, Lora had confirmed Delta’s discontinuation of flights between the John F. Kennedy International Airport and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, effective as of May 6, “due to poor performance of the route.”
But Transport Minister Robeson Benn disputed the explanation by Delta Airlines that it has decided to stop flying the route because it is racking up losses here. He opined that the move by Delta was geared towards expanding its market and had nothing to do with poor passenger load. “Delta Airlines’ announcement of 11 December 2012, of the acquisition of Singapore Airlines’ 49% share in Virgin Atlantic for US$360 million, indicates, perhaps, a corporate shift of assets and activity to the more lucrative Trans-Atlantic route for the world’s largest airline… I would be surprised that they are losing money,” he said.
President Donald Ramotar is also reported by as saying that his government would like the airline to continue its operation out of Georgetown and at no time did it force the airline out. “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,” the Government Information News Agency quoted the President as saying.