Non-stop flights between Guyana and New York will again be a reality in December if all documentation and paperwork are submitted by TravelSpan and given the stamp of approval.
TravelSpan would be using Vision Airlines for charters with effect from December to April of next year, according to Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority Zulficar Mohammed.
“He [TravelSpan CEO Nohar Singh] is going to use Vision Air. They are in the process of putting together the paperwork to submit to us… Vision Air will have to apply to do flights on behalf of TravelSpan into Guyana because they are the airline and they hold an air operator certificate and we have to issue them with a foreign operation specification to operate into Guyana. What TravelSpan will have to do is place the bond and put their other things in place,” Mohammed told Stabroek News today.
Mohammed said once they lodge the paperwork and the bond and get approval, “they can start operations,”
Transport Minister Robeson Benn, however, affirmed, “They have been approved to do flights from New York to Guyana and Trinidad to Guyana from December.”
This development comes weeks after the United States Department of Transportation rejected applications by Caribbean Airlines and Fly Jamaica to offer Non Stop flights from Georgetown to New York. The rejection came due to objections raised by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA and Airlines for America (A4A). Fly Jamaica has since appealed.
Fly Jamaica had asserted that denial of its application would result in the continuation of anti-competitive conditions whereby CAL would have been the only carrier providing non-stop service in the New York (JFK)-Georgetown market, if it had been granted permission. Fly Jamaica further asserted that the majority of the arguments raised by ALPA and A4A pertain exclusively to the application of CAL and to the government of Trinidad and Tobago.
Both CAL and Fly Jamaica would have been seeking direct flight permission to corner more of the market here. The rejection of both would leave Guyanese without a direct flight option to New York. The last such option was provided by Delta Airlines, which pulled out of Guyana in May this year without fully explaining why. It was felt in some quarters that Delta believed that it was facing unfair competition. The denial of the applications will also mean that Guyanese will have to pay relatively high fares between Guyana and New York.
Mohammed informed that final documentation and the bond were expected to be lodged by TravelSpan this week.
He explained that TravelSpan, which once operated here, left with no problems and as such he did not foresee any difficulties. “They had operated in Guyana prior to this. When they exited the market, they had no problems or difficulties. It was due to some difficulties with aircraft… they exited without owing anybody anything, their bond was there,” he said.
The December to April timeframe will be used as a market indicator for TravelSpan and given the demand the company may opt to continue regular flights. “If it is profitable to continue and there is no airline coming in the foreseeable future, he will continue …He is a businessman, he operates with the numbers once it is profitable he will continue,” Mohammed opined.
The company has already been advertising its services on social media website Facebook. It says that from December 14th and every Thursday and Saturday there will be nonstop flights from JFK Airport in New York to Georgetown. There will also be extra flights on December 18, 23, and from December 30th to January 5th.
Meanwhile, Mohammed informed that two airlines have expressed interest in the North American route. Those two are Fly Guyana and another operating out of Curacao. Of the former, he said that while they were given the go-ahead with their application, they have not yet submitted the relevant documentation and he does not see them taking off before this year ends. On the latter, he said it was just an expression of interest. “There are things in the pipeline… we have had expression of interests but nothing solid,” he said.