Delta confirms Guyana pull-out; Minister disputes reasons given

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Thursday February 21, 2013 – Delta Airlines has confirmed speculations that it will no longer fly its Georgetown-New York route after May, making it the third airline to cease flying to Guyana in the past year.

The reason cited by Delta was route profitability but, Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn has provided information that counters that claim.

According to the Government Information Agency, Benn noted that since its inaugural flight in June 2008, Delta Airlines has benefitted from the support of the travelling public to the extent that it enjoyed the highest payload for all airlines operating at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) at Timehri.

Benn, who also has responsibility for the aviation sector, said a careful look at these numbers will reveal that Delta was experiencing passenger growth despite competition from low cost carriers RedJet and EZjet.

“The 84% average payload and the increased passenger growth are contrary to the statement of ‘significant decline in passenger loads’ issued by Delta’s Corporate Communications Manager. We have noted claims by Delta elsewhere of higher fuel cost and of a Guyana passenger profile which is biased towards the low end of the market in respect of fares”.

Delta Airlines’ announcement on December 11, 2012, of the acquisition of Singapore Airlines’ 49% share in Virgin Atlantic for US$360M, the minister said indicates, perhaps, a corporate shift of assets and activity to the more lucrative Trans Atlantic route for the world’s largest airline.

The Guyana aviation sector and its passengers have benefited from the Delta experience and the ongoing and intended improvements at the CJIA, Minister Benn added. He further stated that the slated runway extension and new terminal building, “allows us to hold the door open for Delta’s rethink of its options for its engagement in Guyana”.

Minister Benn also took the opportunity to thank Delta for its services, and at the same time he announced that Government is actively pursuing other suitable replacement services to meet the needs of the traveling public.

Asked about the possible entrance into the local market by a Guyanese -owned, ‘Fly Jamaica Airline’ he said that the company is yet to submit corporate financial information and lodge a bond with the Guyana Government. This is necessary before an airline begins flights and a prerequisite that is a standard requirement worldwide. “The Government of Guyana has to have, as is normal for these kind of investments, information on the major players in the investment, in the undertaking”.

Source: Caribbean 360