The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), with backing from the government, is looking to regulate ground handling operations in the country due to increasing air traffic.
This was disclosed yesterday by Deputy Director of the GCAA Artie Heeralall during the official opening of the 15th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Caribbean Aviation Handlers’ Association (CAHA).
Heeralall noted that while Guyana would have had a low level of aviation activity in the past, there were no efforts to regulate services, such as ground handling operations.
This, she said, has changed as a result of increased air traffic, which will bring a demand for support services, such as the ones provided by ground handlers.
“In Guyana, because of our low level of aviation activity, we did not put the regulatory regime in place because we considered it then a support service, but it is going to transition into one of the most important services… What we consider support services is what will become core services to the aviation system,” Heeralall posited, before announcing GCAA’s intention to regulate the operations.
The discovery of oil offshore has led to a surge of investor interest here, including related aviation activity. ExxonMobil has contracted a helicopter service for its oil production operations that are set to begin in 2020. The oil sector has also drawn increasing investor interest and this has been seen as one of the factors behind major US carrier, American Airlines’ decision to begin flying here from December.
Meanwhile, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson, in his remarks at the opening, commended the CAHA for its commitment to representing this particular aspect of aviation since he too believes that it has over the years received little attention.
“I am also happy to know that … aviation provides a forum for engagement that is pushing to establish common positions on legislative methods while working together for the further development of aviation,” he added.
With Roraima Airways the only Guyanese company that is a part of the association, the Minister called on other local operators to look into becoming members, particularly since he believes it would aid in the development of the industry.
Patterson said that the government plans to develop and improve the country’s infrastructure, particularly those aspects relating to transportation.
“We are looking to create a multi-faceted transportation system to effectively and efficiently link the hinterland with the coast, and with accessibility to some of the places being only by air, the domestic aviation sector is particularly important,” he said.
“Many specific industries, such as mining, agriculture, tourism, [and] forestry, are all beneficiaries of our robust aviation industry and we are therefore very serious about the development of our aviation industry and will continue to improve existing infrastructure to facilitate its growth,” the minister added.
He also made mention of plans to upgrade the Lethem Airport in Region Nine and possibly the establishment of an international airport close to the country’s southern border with the intention of connecting Africa to South America, which could increase air traffic to Guyana’s shores.
Incorporated in January, 2007 under the Barbados Companies Act, CAHA’s objective lies in the representation of the ground handling industry in the Caribbean as the regional arm of the International Aviation Handlers’ Association.
The AGM welcomed participants from different sectors of the local and regional aviation industry, including airline companies, ground handling operation companies and other aviation-related entities. They will discuss a wide range of topics, including open sky policies and ramp safety. Participants would also have the opportunity to witness presentations by vendors of aviation related equipment, among other things.