CAL hiking of ticket prices ‘outrageous’ – Tourism Minister

The Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce is alarmed at the “outrageous increases” in ticket prices by Guyana’s flag carrier Caribbean Airlines (CAL) and accused it of trying to rake in profits from the high demand in the Guyana market.

“We are extremely dissatisfied with the arbitrary increases in prices for tickets, in some cases a 50 minutes flight to Trinidad and Tobago costs US$425,” Minister Irfaan Ali said in a press release yesterday.

The Trinidad and Tobago-based CAL, which is carrying a significant debt burden, has taken up the slack and has added flights to its Guyana route since the exit of EZjet last year and Delta Airlines earlier this year. During negotiations with the government, the regional carrier had given assurances that it was committed to “keeping the fare structure of Caribbean Airlines” which would mean that there would be no additional increase in the cost of tickets. Ali noted that CAL’s position in the Guyana market should have been considered from a corporate responsibility perspective and not an opportunity to rake in profits as a result of the high demand. He pointed out that while government is working on securing other airlines to end the “monopolistic position” that now exists, it believes that corporate ethics and responsibility must govern how business is conducted.   “We are well acquainted with the fact that the Trinidad market is not required to pay the increases demanded from the Guyanese market, and it has been proven that the Guyanese market is one of the strongest for Caribbean Airlines. In the light of this Guyana should be treated as special customers; the least that we would want is to have equal and fair treatment on par with the Trinidad market,” he said.

While the ministry’s focus continues to be to ensure that the tourism sector remains vibrant, Ali said it is also committed to ensuring that air transport does not become a hindrance to travel to and from Guyana.  CAL is facing mounting pressure in Trinidad over its financial situation and there was recently a shake-up of its board. Questions have also been raised about salaries paid to CAL executives and the loss of revenue through the provision of complimentary seats on flights to some executives. Regional airline LIAT has also continued to complain about fuel subsidies by the Trinidad government to CAL.

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