There was no mistaking the sense of optimism and enthusiasm in the tone of Suriname Airways Guyana Representative Rudi Westerborg during the briefing which he gave this newspaper earlier this week on the airline’s new twice weekly service between Georgetown and Miami which commences on April 3. The service provides an important option for Guyanese travellers who continue to be victims of the vagaries of a regional airline industry that has been drifting in and out of difficult situations for some time now, in the absence of a national flag carrier and without any immediate-term prospects of one emerging.

Westerborg and, we assume, the authorities in Suriname see the new Georgetown-Miami service as both serving the travel interests of Guyanese and strengthening relations between the two South American Republics in circumstances where those relations – for reasons which are well known – have at times, been more than a little bit rocky.

Suriname was the first country to receive an official visit from Guyanese President Donald Ramotar since his December 3 inauguration and the launch of Suriname Airways service between Georgetown and Miami shortly after his visit would appear to suggest that that visit went well for both President Ramotar and his Surinamese counterpart Desi Bouterse.

While one can of course argue that Suriname Airways is more likely than not to find its new route a profitable one, it is equally fair to suggest that the service would have been unlikely to materialize had the visit to Paramaribo by Mr Ramotar not concluded on an upbeat note.

More than that, we now know that Suriname Airways has also responded positively to a request from the Guyana Government that the airline offer a service between Georgetown and Toronto before Christmas this year. The announcement has been made that, Suriname Airways will on a charter basis in the first instance, fly Guyanese passengers on that route before introducing a permanent service during the second quarter of next year. Here again, Suriname Airways will be filling in on a busy and important travel route for Guyanese passengers while expanding its own international operations and its profile in the process.

Another important point made by the Suriname Airways local representative during his interview with this newspaper has to do with Paramaribo’s interest in further strengthening ties with the smaller territories of the region. Coming at a time when the regional airline industry appears to be drifting from one difficult situation to another the announcement would appear to mean that Suriname Airways has even more plans to broaden its service in a predominantly English-speaking Caribbean Community in which it strives to enhance increase both its presence and its relevance.

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