Mulling expansion, high fuel cost clips TravelSpan’s wings

Even as TravelSpan continues to examine new routes, high fuel prices at the Cheddi Jagan Inter-national Airport (CJIA), Timehri are hampering its expansion plans, the company says.

“We continue to analyze new routes from George-town…the plans to expand CJIA offer greater opportunities. As an airline, our largest cost is fuel and CJIA continues to be very high fuel cost which is an impediment to expansion. We are working with the Government and vendors to find ways to lower the cost of fuel at CJIA,” Rob Binns, a director on the US-based company’s board, told Stabroek News in an interview.

The airline’s direct flight between George-town and New York has filled a gap left last year May by Delta Airlines.

Rob Binns
Rob Binns

Binns said that not only does the fuel cost impact on the company’s expansion process but it hampers reductions in fares. None-theless, he pointed out that since TravelSpan entered the market there has been an overall reduction in fares.

“The travelling public wanted to break the mono-poly on the GEO-JFK (Georgetown-New York) route as they felt they were being gouged with ever increasing fares. Since TravelSpan entered the market we have seen fares decrease and now the public has a proven carrier in TravelSpan with sensible fares and a great on-time performance,” he said.

From December 15 last year to March 30, TravelSpan flew 4,138 passengers into Guyana from New York. Binns said that from a financial perspective and estimating that each person would have brought at least US$1500 to spend while they were in Guyana, it would have meant that $1.2 billion was pumped into the economy. The airline would like to see these figures rapidly increase and commits to aiding in the country’s development.

Binns said too that TravelSpan’s entry into the market has created many direct and indirect jobs for Guyana. “While we have increased our own staff by several additions, we also created new jobs for ground handlers, maintenance, cargo, security and other companies that help support our operation.   Most notably, we are in the final stages of hiring 30 Guyanese flight attendants who will be trained and on our flights by this summer,” he said.

“We believe our Guyanese flight attendants will better reflect and understand the needs of our passengers. And these Guyanese flight attendants will also be serving our other routes including Trinidad. This shows our commitment to provide local employment and help to grow the economy of Guyana,” Binns added.

The airline also boasts that to date no one has been arrested for attempting to smuggle contraband on its flights. This, the official said, is attributed to the improvements at CJIA and internal steps TravelSpan’s management have taken to ensure a better operation and mitigate the risk of contraband.

Passengers have lauded the service provided not only for the alternative option to New York that they had been clamouring for since Delta exited the market, but for the personalized service received in flight.

One passenger who recently travelled on a return flight to New York, last week told Stabroek News that he was pleasantly surprised at the friendly service they received. The passenger said that the Chief Steward before landing went to every person on the flight shook their hands and personally thanked them for using the service.

Passengers have also commented positively on the meals given and service offered especially to senior citizens for whom on-flight help with filling of immigration forms and assistance with retrieving and storing hand luggage, is offered.

TravelSpan has scheduled flights between Georgetown and New York on Tuesdays and Saturdays. However to accommodate the increase of travellers during the summer peak season, two additional flights have been added.

Fares are US$349 one way or US$652 roundtrip all taxes inclusive and can be purchased both online at www.travelspan.com and at local agents countrywide. The airline’s Georgetown office is located on Regent Street in the Matt’s Record Bar building which is opposite the ACME photo studio. (Marcelle Thomas)

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