GEORGETOWN, Guyana — Caribbean Airlines (CAL) executives are being urged to understand their role in the Guyanese market and to desist from the abuse and exploitation in terms of airfares that Guyanese are asked to pay coming into Guyana.
Tourism, industry and commerce minister, Irfaan Ali reiterated this call on Tuesday, when he placed an open invitation to CAL executives to come to Guyana for an urgent meeting.
“I have instructed the GTA director to call in the new CEO and chairman of the board to meet with us no later than next Friday.
We are taking this issue very seriously and I have also advised my colleague minister that my position would be a re-examination of the status that was given to them if the situation does not correct itself in a timely manner,” Ali said.
As to the major causes for concern and the important issues to be addressed at the engagement, Ali pointed to the exorbitant ticket prices levied on Guyanese passengers coming from New York, Toronto and Trinidad, calling it “unacceptable, atrocious and disgusting and against the spirit of agreement in terms of CAL being a flag carrier”.
He said, “I personally am aware of persons who would have bought tickets at an enormous price to come to Guyana. If you compare this to the prices other persons are paying from Trinidad, I find this to be a situation of abusing the present monopoly that they have in Guyana, and they do have a monopoly; this is why they are taking us for granted, they are taking this market for granted and they are reaping in great profits maybe to make up for the deficiency in other markets.”
Further, the tourism minister also addressed the numerous complaints reaching his office over the treatment of Guyanese using the carrier, particularly as they in-transit in Trinidad and Tobago by CAL staff and service agents.
Alluding to the most recent incident, where a flight out of Piarco International Airport was delayed for close to half an hour, after a New York-based Guyana national was escorted off the aircraft for alleged abusive behaviour, Ali noted that to date CAL has not submitted an official statement on the matter.
“We cannot accept this; this cannot be in the interest of their business and in the interest of them having flag carrier status for Guyana .I intend to pursue the matter and the long, tedious harassment and delay that Guyanese go through as a result of CAL operation issues in Trinidad,” he said.
As to the impending entry of Fly Jamaica into the Guyana market and the possibility of this airline sharing flag carrier status, Ali confirmed this and expressed the hope that Guyana will add a new airline very shortly.