With Dynamic Airways still to get clearance for takeoff by authorities at the John F Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York, the company yesterday turned to ferrying travellers out of Connecticut for connecting flights into Guyana.
The airline says that it hopes to obtain clearance and be able to fly out of JFK by this weekend.
“We are going through this long process to ensure that everyone reaches their destination and I know for some going to New Jersey or Connecticut is inconveniencing but I am optimistic that we will have this issue resolved by weekend ,” local representative for Dynamic Air-ways Gerry Gouveia told Stabroek News yesterday.
He explained that Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport was used because Atlantic City’s Airport did not have the necessary agents at the time for the scheduled flights and they travelled north to Bradley in the same estimated time for travel.
This option, he explain-ed, was taken because his company made a promise to not have any passenger stranded and he said travellers preferred being delayed for a few hours than being stranded completely.
The airline got off to a troubling start last Friday with its inaugural flight to New York, which was marred by delays, equipment breakdowns and poor service. After leaving the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri, for the JFK International Airport on Friday, the flight was due to return to Guyana later in the day but US airport authorities stopped the plane from leaving after irregularities were discovered.
In the United States, Stabroek News was told that that the airline had no authorisation to land as there was no assigned terminal. This was where Dynamic’s problems began in New York.
When the airplane landed at the JFK airport, it was swarmed by several Transportation Security Administration (TSA) vehicles. The TSA is an agency of the US Department of Homeland Security and upon inquiring, a Stabroek News reporter was told that the reason for the surrounding was because although the airline was registered, it did not have authorisation to land since it was not assigned any terminal.
Gouveia explained that the situation occurred because an airline pulled out of an agreement to allow Dynamic to use its terminal while the plane was still in the air. “For some reason they went back on the agreement… I don’t know why they cancelled,” he lamented.
Once off the plane, passengers were then taken by bus shuttle to the airport complex for immigration and customs clearance.
Upon arriving, there was tight security. As each passenger disembarked the bus they were checked by sniffer dogs before proceeding to the immigration checkpoint.
They were then subjected to rigorous checks by customs agents, who thoroughly searched each Guyanese traveller’s luggage.
The plane’s pilot was escorted for questioning and Stabroek News was told that process lasted for over seven hours. The airline believed that the problem was sorted out and made arrangements to return to Guyana on Friday as scheduled.
However, more problems came as the ground handling company hired seem to have no experience and its laxity resulted in several violations.
“The ground handling company came the morning and they did not have one baggage tag, not one… there was also no boarding passes for persons,” a source said.
TSA gave an initial warning and the issue was resolved. However, when checks were made of the baggage, it was found that some of them had no passenger allocated to it or nametag. TSA requires a one hundred percent bag match before a plane is cleared for takeoff.
Then came the final straw when checks of passengers were made and 10 were unaccounted for. When TSA checked, the 10 passengers were found onboard the plane and no one could say how they had passed the airline’s boarding agents.
It was then that TSA informed the airline’s representatives that they would not be leaving in light of several breaches and violations.
Dynamic was warned that until all documentation was in order it would not be given the necessary clearance out of JFK.
Despite the inauspicious start for the airline, many passengers with whom this newspaper spoke said that they would travel again because they believe that the hiccups were as a result of the airline being new.
“Everyone deserves a second chance and I would fly with them again because the customer service is really great. It is just these delays but when they overcome this I think it can work out be a very excellent airline,” one passenger, who asked not to be named, said.