Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Zulficar Mohammed says that once Fly Jamaica could satisfy its requirements for its Toronto and New York destinations, it could commence operation by the end of July.
Speaking to Stabroek News on Wednesday, Mohammed said that Fly Jamaica is still to receive all of its clearance from Toronto and New York—the two destinations where it will operate to from Georgetown.
In early June, Cabinet gave approval for Fly Jamaica to operate its service from Guyana to New York and Toronto. However, this approval was contingent on meeting all financial and technical requirements, including the lodging of a $40 million bond.
Mohammed acknowledged that the bond of $40 million is not adequate in case the airline runs into trouble and persons have to be refunded. However, he said that this bond is what the government put in place some years ago and it must be used until such time that it is increased. He noted that this figure had not been sufficient to address the plight of the EZjet passengers, who were left high and dry when that airline ceased operations because of issues with its owner.
EZjet, a low-cost carrier collapsed spectacularly last year after a civil suit was filed against its owner Sonny Ramdeo in the US alleging embezzlement. The FBI later arrested Ramdeo and he faces trial in Florida on a series of charges.
The quantum of this bond was recently questioned after EZjet passengers could not be repaid in full for their purchased tickets since the quantum owed exceeded what was available in the escrow account.
Sought for a comment on when government planned to address the inadequacy of the bond, Transport Minister Robeson Benn could not be reached.
Benn’s ministry, in an advisory, had said that because of the large number of persons who had to be refunded, the government was only able to refund 64% of the cost of the ticket.
Approval at the Guyana end for Fly Jamaica to operate came after the standard evaluation procedures were carried out by the GCAA and a recommendation made to Cabinet by Minister Benn.
Jamaica-based Fly Jamaica was started by two aviation entrepreneurs – Guyanese Captain Ronald Reece of Wings Aviation, and Jamaican Captain Lloyd Tai.
The GCAA said that the next step following Cabinet’s approval is that the airline will have to submit key technical documentation prior to commencing operations. These documents had to be submitted before the GCAA could issue the airline with foreign operation specifications allowing for a foreign registered aircraft to operate in Guyana. Those foreign operation specifications are based on approvals that the airline would have gotten from Jamaica and the US FAA.