Millions in losses loom for a new local airline as the start of operations has been delayed following de-registration of its company’s name by the Deeds and Commercial Registries Authority as it was identical to that of the former Guyana Airways.
Stabroek News understands that the company had been officially informed sometime last month that the name Guyana Airways Corporation Inc. is “identical” to that of the former state-owned airline, which was later privatised and became the now defunct Guyana Airways 2000.
It was also noted that Guyana Airways Corporation was one of the entities that fell under the Public Corporations Act of 1988 and was so registered.
According to the new company’s Chief Executive Officer Colin Abrams, the certification of the company by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has since been paused as it received a letter from the agency requesting that the company re-submit its pre-application under a different name if it wishes to be certified.
“The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority sent us a letter about a week and a half ago telling us that they received notification from the Registration Board that the Guyana Airways Corporation Inc., is no longer registered and I found that quite odd that we received notification the same time they received notification and that’s not the law,” he shared.
The CEO noted that they would have submitted their pre-application in March and would have completed all the necessary manuals needed for the application prior to that.
“GCAA has a five-stage application process. You send the PASI (Pre-Application Statement of Intent), it’s kind of different in Guyana, when you apply for your air operator’s certificate because you have to have everything in place—leases, agreements with hangar space, manuals, training—
before you can fill out the application. Our manuals and agreements are completed to proceed towards the application process and then there is an interview with GCAA and at which they review and send for us to amend,” Abrams shared.
Commenting on the issue of de-registration, the CEO said the company had been registered in Guyana and the United States since 2016, with persons having a six-month window to make objections to any aspect of the company’s registration. And with no one coming forward to make any objections, the company has over the past two years worked towards entering the local aviation market.
However, these plans have since been delayed after the company was notified that the business was unregistered due to claims that the use of the name was in contravention of the law.
“Every entity had an opportunity to object to the name Guyana Airways Corporation Inc., within the six-month period after we received our registration. This is not us just going there, getting our attorneys putting the paperwork together and getting our registration. It goes through a whole lot of committees, and time period where they review it to see if it is available and it was,” Abrams shared.
Not be identical
“The law states that the name must not be identical…identical means the same, the AG’s interpretation however, is that the names are too similar because the last registered name for the corporation was Guyana (Airways) 2000, the (former) airline has no directors nothing yet, they chose to strike off the records of a company that has been in operation for the past two years,” he added.
“They sent us a coded statute that is not even the most current statue pertaining to corporate registration and that’s all I will say about that because it is now a legal matter. But this is costing me money, this is costing the company money,” the CEO added.
Regarding the state of readiness to begin operations, Abrams said that prior to receiving the letter, the company was preparing to send local personnel for training in Miami and would have already invested millions in developing the company.
Commenting on the next step in having the issue resolved, the CEO said, “We have a team of attorneys working on that but I can’t elaborate at the moment.”
Asked whether they have considered altering the name, Abrams said, “This would be a monumental task and major setback to alter this because it’s been two years. The government was informed, GO-Invest who came to the United States and tried to encourage diaspora Guyanese to come back home to invest, they have our application everything, we sent a copy of our business plan to the Office of the President, Ministry of Business all that. We tried to do our due diligence, is not like Guyana Airways has been undercover for two years.”
As it related to the use of the name and logo, the CEO said based on the research carried out by their team, the name was available for anyone in Guyana to use.
“Guyana Airways Corporation, the name was available for anyone in Guyana to use it because Guyana Airways was married to Guyana (Airways) 2000, we had to separate the two. It wasn’t a secret we didn’t do this in the dark of night or undercover, it was open to the public so we were able to use the name Guyana Airways because for 18 years there was no airline in the country. I wanted to bring an airline to the country with a name that is synonymous with the country so it was a costly legal issue to separate the two. Guyana (Airways) 2000 is still available, that’s the last registered name of the company,” Abrams said.
“Guyana Airways’ logo was never copyrighted. This is not something we just went into and go ‘Hey that looks good, let’s use it’ or ‘Hey, I like that name let’s use it.’ We had attorneys who did their research who did their due diligence and that’s how we end up with it. We have laws in Guyana and the law says it must be identical, not similar, they had a six-month window where they could have objected to it, and they had the opportunity to do it. My understanding from the attorneys is that they did everything right, what the government is doing is 100% wrong, illegal, simple as that and no one wants to put their fingerprints on that,” he added.