Good that AA is flying here but we must demand respect

Dear Editor,

It is good that American Airlines (AA) will operate in Guyana from December and break the stranglehold Caribbean Airways (CAL) has on our necks.

American Airlines flights will be a tremendous boost for local business. More competition among airlines means we will get better service for our hard-earned dollars. For example, Caribbean Airlines allows passengers only one free suitcase of 50 lbs and bills them a hefty US$30 for every additional suitcase. But AA’s baggage allowance will be two free pieces of checked luggage of 50 lbs each. This will be a heavy body-blow to Caribbean Airlines; they will have to do much better.

AA will also hit CAL hard by using modern Airbus A319 planes for Guyana flights. These planes have wide leather seats, in-flight entertainment, WIFI access and USB ports. Guyanese will have a much better choice than to suffer on CAL’s long, boring flights on old planes without in-flight entertainment. Make no mistake: American Airlines flying to Guyana will be a beautiful thing. I support it. In fact, I hope AA will soon start flying the Guyana-New York route, or from here to London and Europe via Barbados or some other Caribbean territory.

American Airlines flying here in December is a smart move, because that is when the new airport is slated to open. Our oil and gas industry will begin to accelerate and, obviously, there will be more travellers to and from Guyana.

Some uninformed people are cursing the thought of AA flying to Guyana. They do not understand the airline business and discuss it without understanding the issue at hand.

They are complaining that Caribbean Airlines served Guyana in good times and bad and we should be grateful. I have nothing personal against Caribbean Airlines. I am a frequent flyer and I have enjoyed the service of Caribbean Airlines cabin crews. But for a long time now the airline’s management has been treating us with contempt and it is good that AA will shake them up big time.

CAL stuck with us when other airlines left, but they also took advantage of us. Don’t forget that Caribbean Airlines jacked up air fares and made us pay through our noses when our economy was almost dead, which affected our mentality, our self-esteem and our livelihood.

I would like to compliment Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin, former Minister of Tourism Cathy Hughes and Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson for working to get American Airlines to fly to Guyana. But why was American Airlines able to announce flights to Guyana before getting permission?

It looks like AA is calling the shots. This makes Guyana look bad and weak.  Guyana is an independent nation with sovereign rights over its airspace. We cannot accept any big company coming from outside to make policies for our country. It was presumptuous of American Airlines to announce flights to Guyana before getting the go-ahead from government. Guyanese have to get their act together and take control. No one has a right to make policies for the Government of Guyana and the peoples of Guyana without our involvement.

I am a maniac for Guyana’s development, regardless of which government rules. I love my country; I love our independence as a nation; most of all I love our independence of thought as a people. We have to demand respect when we do business. That is the way we have to deal with American Airlines and any foreign corporation or airline.

Nevertheless, I still support AA flying here. I am glad that it will light a fire under CAL’s tail and force it to jack up its service instead of its air fares. At the point of writing this letter, it is my understanding from the Ministry of Public Infrastructure that they have still not written and asked permission to fly to Guyana. To me, this smacks of disrespect because they think we are a poor country and will do whatever they say. In the negotiation and discussion that follow, I think that our team negotiating for Guyana needs to state this in a most pellucid manner.

It is good, however, that government is welcoming AA, whether or not they knew up front that the airline had decided to fly here. May this be the dawn of a bright new day for air travel in Guyana.

Yours faithfully,

Roshan Khan Sr

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