The Cheddi Jagan International Airport Timehri (CJIA) processed a record 572,439 passengers last year, according to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ramesh Ghir.
Speaking at the Ministry of Public Infrastructure 2016 year-in-review press conference on Wednesday, Ghir said the figure represented the airport’s highest passenger traffic in a single year, which he credited to the celebration of the country’s 50th independence anniversary last year.
“2016 was the year of the golden jubilee and that year had quite a lot of passengers; those returning Guyanese and lots of visitors.
We processed 572,000 passengers, which was 14% more than the year before and the highest number we have had in the history of the airport,” Ghir said, while pointing out that the airport had only ever surpassed 500,000 passengers twice before in its history.
Breaking down the figures for passenger movement with the specific airlines, Ghir noted that Suriname Airways had a 65% increase; Fly Jamaica had a 79% increase; Insel Air had a 16% increase and Dynamic Airways had a 23% increase. Caribbean Airlines, he noted, was the only airline that had a decrease, which was pegged at 10%. Ghir explained that the decrease was as a result of the airline reducing its flights and he noted that Caribbean Airlines remained the most favoured carrier.
In addition to the six main airlines, Ghir pointed out that there were three new carriers—Eastern Airways, Fly Always and Easy Sky, which carried 16,500, 2,300 and 11,700 passengers, respectively.
In terms of the market, Ghir said that the North American market was still contributing the most to air traffic, although there has been a decline from 80% in 2015 to 77% in 2016. However, he explained that the drop was due to other markets opening up around the world, which he said was good for the airport.
While the airport had set out to achieve revenue of $1.3 billion last year, Ghir said it fell short by $9 million with approximately $1.291 billion, which represents a 13% increase in revenue from 2015.
Speaking about the 2017 projections and projects, Ghir highlighted the current expansion of the airport. “The expansion is US$150 million and the Exim bank is contributing US$138 million while the government is contributing US$12 million. To date we have paid US$75 million, of which US$71 million is from the Exim Bank,” he said.
He explained that so far, 100% of the excavation and foundation works have been done for the runway. Even though they have not started the pavement work, he pegged the date of completion for the project at June 17, which will be in full compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
He added that a new arrivals terminal is being constructed and the current one will be rehabilitated and merged with the departure terminal. “For labour, we have about 151 Chinese national and 271 Guyanese on the project and we anticipate the numbers to be bumped up when it starts to move,” he added.
Additionally, Ghir said, there will be an establishment of a cambio that accepts all credit cards at the airport. He added that while they have received expressions of interests, they are currently in negotiations with one of the local banks to have the service in place. The project should be concluded by March.