Gov’t restates call for CAL to drop fares, says flag carrier status could be reviewed

Caribbean Airlines (CAL) Executives are being urged to desist from exploitation in terms of airfares that Guyanese are being asked to pay coming into Guyana, according to the Government Information Agency.

Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister, Irfaan Ali restated this call on Tuesday when he issued an open invitation to CAL Executives to come to Guyana for an urgent meeting, GINA said.

“I have instructed the GTA Director to call in the new CEO and Chairman of the board to meet with us no later than next Friday. We are taking this issue very seriously and I have also advised my colleague Minister that my position would be a re- examination of the status that was given to them if the situation does not correct itself in a timely manner”, Ali said.

CAL was granted flag carrier status in December last year and it had raised questions about what Guyana would get in return. CAL’s prices went up significantly in the peak season this year and the argument has been made that the Guyana to Trinidad leg is expensively priced compared to the Trinidad to New York leg. Delta’s departure from Guyana in May this year also meant that Guyanese had no alternative but to use CAL for flights to the US.

According to GINA,  Ali pointed to the exorbitant ticket prices levied on Guyanese passengers coming from New York, Toronto and Trinidad, calling it “unacceptable, atrocious and disgusting  and against the  spirit of agreement in terms of CAL being a flag carrier”.

He stated, “I personally am aware of persons who would have bought tickets at an enormous price to come to Guyana. If you compare this to the prices other persons are paying from Trinidad, I find this to be a situation of abusing the present monopoly that they have in Guyana, and they do have a monopoly; this is why they are taking us for granted, they are taking this market for granted and they are reaping in great profits maybe to make up for the deficiency in other markets.”

Ali also addressed complaints reaching his office over the treatment of Guyanese using the carrier, particularly as they transit Trinidad and Tobago.

Referring to the most recent incident where a flight out of  Piarco International Airport was delayed  after a New York-based Guyana national was escorted off the aircraft for alleged abusive behaviour,  Ali told GINA that to date CAL  has not submitted an official statement on the matter.

“We cannot accept this; this cannot be in the interest of their business and in the interest of them having flag carrier status for Guyana .I intend to pursue the matter and the long, tedious harassment and delay that Guyanese go through as a result of CAL operation issues in Trinidad.”

Ali confirmed the possibility that Fly Jamaica which will start operations soon could also be granted flag carrier status.

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