-awaiting final certification
A new airline, Golden Arrow Airways, hopes to commence operations in Guyana within the next two weeks after passing the demonstration phase of its certification process yesterday.
The airline, which is based at the Ogle International Airport, was set up at the cost of around US$1 million ($200 million), Giovanni Charles, who along with Nirvana Mahase owns the new company, told Stabroek News yesterday. Neither Charles nor Mahase has a history in aviation, but decided to get into the business because of the prospects.
It is for this reason that they have retained the services of Captain Learie Barclay, a pilot for the last 14 years, as their operations manager.
Barclay said yesterday that reaching the demonstration phase is the culmination of more than one year of planning and organizing. Barclay, once a fixture with Roraima Airways, is the operations manager of the airline’s eleven-member operations team which includes five ramp attendants, four operations staff and an operations supervisor.
Golden Arrow Airways plans to ply local routes initially. Barclay told reporters that Lethem, Imbaimadai, Kamarang, Mahdia and Kaieteur Falls will be among the targeted locations. He said these flights will take place as often as the planes are chartered.
Eventually, the captain continued, the airline wants to expand its services by offering flights to regional destinations including Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil and Venezuela.
The airline, Barclay said, has retained the services of five Guyanese pilots to operate its fleet.
Yesterday, the management of Golden Arrow Airways invited members of the media to tag along on what was the penultimate phase of the airline’s qualification process – the demonstration phase.
Lt Colonel Egbert Field, an inspector with the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System (CASSOS) was tasked with evaluating the operating procedure of the airline, including a forty- minute demonstration flight from the Ogle to Shanklands on the Essequibo Coast, then on to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Timehri before heading back to Ogle.
Instead of touching down at Timehri, the airplane’s captain executed an aborted landing, as he would have needed to do if there were complications while attempting to land, and flew into Ogle.
At the end of the demonstration flight Field expressed his satisfaction with the airline’s performance, and said he will recommend to the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) that the airline be issued a certificate to operate. Asked if he noted any issues of concern during his evaluation, Field said that there were “a few items which had to be tweaked and put in place.” Initially, he said, there were items related to procedure that were noted. But, he said that whatever issues were initially noted have been worked out. He declined to comment on the specific nature of the “items” which had to be tweaked.
At any rate, he has concluded that Golden Arrow Airways has satisfied the requirements to commence its operations.
This, he said, is the recommendation that he will deliver to GCAA. He noted though, that while he is responsible for making the recommendation, it is up to the Authority to decide whether or not it will award the company the certificate. Yesterday’s demonstration was the fourth in a five-phase procedure.
Field explained that the pre-application, application and documentation phases had to be completed to get this far. The fifth phase entails being certified by GCAA.
Barclay told reporters yesterday that once certification is attained the airline can begin operations within the next two weeks. The airline will be operating Britten-Norman Trilanders. These aircraft can seat eighteen including the pilot, and will therefore become the largest small model aircraft operating in Guyana. In addition to the craft’s superior seating capacity, they run on three engines under normal circumstances, and Barclay said they are able to run on just two if need be. Barclay is of the opinion that these specs will make Golden Arrow Airways a force to be reckoned with in the local markets. Also, Despite its superior features, the cost to charter one of these plans will run parallel to the cost to charter a Cessna Caravan, the more popular choice of air operators here, which has thirteen seats and runs on just one engine. The airline currently has two aircraft and Barclay said more will be sourced once operations commence.