President Bharrat Jagdeo has expressed disappointment at the recent travel bottlenecks faced by Guyanese travellers using Caribbean Airlines (CAL), while saying that the government is still exploring avenues to establish a locally-owned air carrier.
Speaking at a media briefing at Office of the President (OP) yesterday, the president, in response to a question about the recent experiences of passengers travelling to and from the United States, noted that the administration is exploring the option of establishing a flag carrier. He added, however, that the government preferred not to have a “full fledged airline” operated with the private sector input.
Jagdeo said that he was concerned about the plight of the stranded passengers. “We are really concerned about it; a lot of people could have lost their jobs, a lot of them were not being taken care of,” he added.
He said too that, ’…We recognise the hurricane scenario, but Caribbean Airlines should meet full obligations to passengers and I hope they do so.”
The president stated that, “we definitely have to get more airlift into North America, Europe too, but more so in North America, we are still exploring equity participation.”
Meanwhile, Caribbean Airlines noted yesterday in a media release that within the past four days, the majority of passengers who were scheduled to travel to and from New York during the 27 and 28 of August have been accommodated. It added that passengers were moved to and from New York from major Caribbean locations such as Kingston, Georgetown and Port-of-Spain.
Caribbean Airlines also said that remaining passengers here, who were affected by the flight cancellations as result of the passing of Hurricane Irene, will be transported today. Passengers locally and in New York had bemoaned the service offered by the airline after frequent flight delays within the past few days saw many persons spending long hours at the airport.
Jagdeo also announced yesterday that there are plans to extend the main runway at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) by another 3,500 feet. He said that the plans also include the construction of a new airport building that will have 8 air bridges, which will be connected to the city with a four-lane road completing the plan. He added that the government has already awarded contracts as regards the latter.
The CJIA runway recently came under scrutiny after a CAL plane crash-landed there on July 30.