With concerns mounting over the availability of United States dollars, Dynamic Airways, which flies to New York, yesterday began asking customers to bring their own US currency to purchase tickets or they would have to pay at a calculated rate of $250 to US$1.
“A letter came down from management letting us know…so yes it is either US or $250 to $1,” Roraima Airways executive Debbie Gouveia told Stabroek News yesterday. She said that she was unable to give details as to the high cost for the foreign exchange saying that her husband and Chief Executive Officer of Roraima Airways, Gerry Gouveia was the best person to explain.
Gouveia could not immediately be reached by this newspaper but commented on the issue on his Facebook page. “Airlines that are doing their tickets transactions Via BSP (Billing and Settlement Plan) are assured of their USD flows because the funds are deposited into the BSP accounts. Airlines that are dealing directly with the travel agents have to ensure their own exchange rates directly based on the market forces,” he said.
Checks for flights on Caribbean Airlines revealed that charges are calculated at $210 to 1, Copa Airlines $209, Fly Jamaica $209 and Eastern Airlines $216.
Local travel agents yesterday bemoaned Dynamic’s exchange rate saying that not only did it come without notice but it also saw ticket sales for the airline plummeting.
At a well- known travel agency in the city, one agent said that while they sell minimal amounts of tickets for the airline, it was “almost embarrassing” to have to explain to customers the disparity compared to other airlines. “We are saying 220 and 225 but then came this 250 and like we don’t know what to do. Imagine people croaking about 220 so how we tell them this. It is ridiculous but they have to know,” the supervisor said.
Asked if US dollars were readily available to pay airlines, the supervisor said they were not getting enough. “It is up and down but there is a shortage. No one should deny that there is. We go to the banks and we are not getting but for them to ask for 250, no man it will put a strain on people.”
And as the peak travel period nears, the travel agent said that the high rate could mean less travel for locals.
“Dynamic has a base because most persons would tell us they do not want to stop and right now they offer direct flights to New York. Unless something happens and happens fast it could mean that we will see less persons traveling, I have to tell you not Dynamic alone but overall because remember $220 is still high,” the agent said.