Cancelled Fly Jamaica flights leave passengers frustrated

Fly Jamaica has begun to shuttle passengers to their respective destinations but many remain unsure of their flight schedule as they are being told to wait until the airline makes contact with them.

Both Fly Jamaica aircraft have been grounded as a result of mechanical issues for approximately one week. As a result of the grounding for maintenance, all of the company’s operations are affected. Notably, passengers travelling from Georgetown, Guyana to Toronto, Canada are the ones significantly affected. Many passengers, during the course of last week, showed up for their flights but were informed that they had been cancelled.

On the airline’s Facebook page, passengers vented their frustrations as a result of the poor communication. Telephone numbers provided by the airline to its passengers have either been disconnected or are not being manned by anyone.

Stabroek News’ attempts to contact Fly Jamaica officials on the telephone numbers provided for their international and local offices were unsuccessful. A supervisor who was in charge of the commercial office located in the Eugene F. Correia International Airport at Ogle, refused to comment when approached by Stabroek News. He stated that he was not authorised to speak and that all questions should be directed to the General Manager of the Toronto office.

Director-General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Retired Lieutenant Colonel Egbert Field said that Fly Jamaica is currently working to get one of its planes back in operation today. He noted that the GCAA has been keeping a watchful eye on the developments and is in contact with the company.

According to an updated flight schedule posted on the airline’s website, a flight departed Toronto at 6 pm last evening and was expected to arrive in Kingston, Jamaica at 12.20 am, while a flight from Georgetown to Toronto is expected to depart at 11.20 am today.

Yesterday, Field told this newspaper that the airline had informed his agency of the mechanical issues their aircraft had encountered. He noted that the issues were not as a result of “lack of maintenance, but one relating to the engines.”

The GCAA director went on to explain that it is difficult to charter planes at this time since it is considered a peak season. He said the airline had to visit Seattle to secure a charter plane which is now being used to get passengers to their destinations.

Based on the notices posted on the Fly Jamaica website, the schedule is subjected to change and customers are asked to constantly check it. Customers were also advised to call before the scheduled check-in time.

Additionally, another notice posted on the website stated that all flights booked for August 28 and afterwards, would be on the regular schedule.

Stabroek News has since learnt that the airline has chartered a Boeing 777 passenger aircraft from Omni Air, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to continue shuttling passengers between Toronto and Georgetown. The aircraft reportedly landed at Cheddi Jagan International Airport on Thursday night with passengers from John F. Kennedy International Airport, USA, and departed Friday night with 377 passengers for Toronto.

Passengers became frustrated with the situation on Monday last when a flight that was scheduled to depart from Toronto, Canada was cancelled. Although many checked the airline’s website before arriving at the airport, they had been misled since the website had not been updated to inform passengers of the change.

It was only when they started to make a commotion that they were eventually told around 9 pm that their flight was cancelled and informed to keep checking with the airline for further information. The 1-800 number they were provided with subsequently went out of service.

Commenting on the Fly Jamaica Facebook page, another passenger said that they travelled from Parika, East Bank Essequibo, only to be told that their flight had been cancelled. They were provided with two numbers to call for updates but the numbers kept ringing out.

A child reportedly missed an appointment with a neurosurgeon, which had taken months to make, commented another passenger. The child had been expected to leave Guyana on Tuesday but was unable to do so.

Several passengers who were vacationing were unable to return to work in time after their annual leave ended and they found themselves stuck in Guyana.

“My leave of absence from work has expired as I was to return to work yesterday morning. I have received no calls from the airline or their agents to notify me of any updates. All morning I’ve called all the numbers provided, including the CJIA, as well as a few numbers I found online; all of which are either out of service, or ring out with no voicemail option,” another frustrated passenger commented on the airline’s Facebook page.

Passengers expressed anger at the airline since it did not offer any statement explaining the reason behind the delays and cancellation of flights.

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