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Guyana tourism hub potential is at Ogle not Cheddi Jagan airport, study reveals
Published on May 11, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

Ogle airport

By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor

GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- With a Category II rating of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Guyana will not be able to start and operate its own airline until all the deficiencies are corrected. However, this is not a major constraint holding back the development of tourism and attracting more visitors to Guyana.

A 2016 study titled, “Guyana Airlift Capacity,” by a Guyanese aviation expert, who wants to remain anonymous, concluded that “the hub potential is at Ogle and not at Cheddi Jagan International Airport.”

“Jamaica, Barbados and the Dominican Republic have a much better tourism product yet none of these countries operate their own international airlines anymore. Instead they have created the conditions to attract legacy carriers,” the report says.

Constraints and Progress

According to the report, Guyana is a very expensive destination. Guyana is difficult to reach due to poor connectivity and exorbitant airfares. In addition, the country has poor infrastructure, no legacy airlines, no committed airline, and antiquated laws. In addition, politics and lack of technical expertise are major constraints facing Guyana aviation sector, the report concluded.

However, the government is making strides. In April of this year, Guyana was among 12 countries selected by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to receive the Council President Certificate because of “significant progress it has made in resolving their safety oversight deficiencies and improving the effective implementation of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices.”

Opportunities: Pan-Guianas Eco-Tourism

Yet Guyana offers opportunities, the report says. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) “regional integration community headquarters is in Guyana” and Ogle Airport has the potential of becoming a hub if the Guianas develop eco-tourism and forge cooperation.

This why Suriname’s ambassador to the UN, Henry MacDonald, his Guyanese counterpart Rudolph Michael Ten-Pow, the UN, and the private sector are working on a roadmap to develop and market the Caribbean part of the Guiana Shield as one eco-tourism destination.

On May 23, both permanent representatives will join in launching this initiative within the United Nations environment during a special one day event entitled: “Member State Initiatives to Ensure the Success of the Sustainable Development Goals”. This plan is completely in line with the promotion of 2017 as the year for sustainable tourism development, according to MacDonald.

Ogle Expansion: “Green Economy”

The report also suggest that the present infrastructure at Ogle Airport isn’t a constraint affecting passenger volume, but noted that improvement of the airport such as building a taxiway to allow increase in efficiency and throughput can increase capacity. Plans to expand and upgrade the terminal and in a way that will complement Guyana’s “green economy” trust should be put in place.

An airport that is eco-friendly, feels and mirrors the rich fauna and flora of Guyana should be pursued. The assessment calls on the government to upgrade interior airports and facilities, and improved safety has to be a priority if eco-tourism is to be developed.

“Domestic airline operators should look to acquire larger and more comfortable aircraft for interior trips once the interior airports have been improved and runways paved.”

Travellers can combine their vacation with visits to Guyana’s iconic Kaieteur Falls, the “cultural” capital of South America, Paramaribo, where India, Ghana, Indonesia and China meet; and the beaches of Barbados.

“Ogle airport can be made into a hub to serve not only the interior sites but the airports in the region to tap into international tourists who visit places like Barbados, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, and who would like a side trip to Guyana to visit the interior jungle,” according to the report.

“LIAT is already part of this market, but a Guyanese operator could start a similar regional airline. The hub potential is at Ogle and not at Cheddi Jagan International airport.”

The report recommends that regional airports similar to Ogle Airport should be built in: Region 2 -- Hampton Court, Essequibo Coast; Region 6 -- Skeldon, Berbice; Region 7 -- Bartica, Essequibo River; Region 10 -- Linden, Upper Demerara.

How do airlines select routes to fly?

Airlines have a lot of questions about Guyana. Can the airline make money on the route given the limited amount of aircraft and flight crews they have to deploy and the many airports vying for service? Guyana must demonstrate that an airline can make more money. What concessions will an airline get for operating out of Guyana? What is the year round demand for passengers? What is the cargo demand and revenue possibility? What is the split between First, Business and Economy passengers? These are the questions that airlines ask when exploring new routes.
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