This week’s public announcement by Trans Guyana Airways that it will be increasing the frequency of its air service to Lethem to three flights daily attests to the growing economic and social focus of the Rupununi and the commensurate growing demand for the movement of people and material in and out of the region.
Trans Guyana announced in a media advertisement earlier this week that from Monday, passengers to Lethem will benefit from additional flights. Company Consultant Frank Willison told Stabroek Business in a telephone interview on Wednesday that Trans Guyana’s scheduled
air service to Lethem had now reached 21 flights weekly. The company utilises its 14-seater Caravan aircraft for the flight between Ogle International Airport and Lethem.
Willison told Stabroek Business that the service to Lethem was serving as part of an air link between Guyana and Suriname, the other part of that link being the collaborative air service between Paramaribo and Ogle involving Trans Guyana and Suriname’s Gum Air. Willison said the frequency of air travel between Paramaribo and Lethem means that Trans-Guyana handles several bookings for its Ogle-Lethem flights that come directly from Suriname.
Willison said Trans Guyana also serves Brazilian businessmen in the mining sector who frequently travel between Bartica and the Rupununi.
The Trans Guyana official said that while the company continued to benefit from the focus on Lethem as a growing business hub it was also
mindful of “the wider service” provided to communities that benefit from its Lethem flights. “We are mindful, for example, of the service which the route provides to other interior communities. The Lethem flights allow us to make valued regular stops at Annai and Karanambo. I believe that we are the only airline providing that service.”
Apart from the focus on Lethem and the wider Rupununi arising out of the current gold rush driven by high prices, Trans Guyana Airways. Willison said, is also aware of the broader national focus on Lethem as a centre for development.
Government has, in recent years, sought to provide assurances that the Lethem Development Plan was “on track”. Lethem is envisaged by government as holding multi-faceted potential for economic development arising chiefly out of its proximity to Brazil. The plan takes account of residential and commercial development, open spaces, transportation, tourism, industrial development and urban design.
Willison told Stabroek Business that notwithstanding the current high demand for both passenger and cargo services to Lethem, Trans Guyana was continuing to apply its “customarily high safety standards.” He explained that it was not uncommon for the company’s aircraft to fly with empty seats to make allowances for the fact of high demand for cargo space. “Part of our policy is not ever to compromise safety or passenger comfort by exceeding strict weight limitations,” Willison said.