All of Executive Jet Club LLC flights have taken place in accordance with the established measures that are applicable in and out of Guyana, and were done with integrity and transparency, Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn told the media on Tuesday at his Kingston Office.
Minister Benn was at the time responding to speculations with regards to Government’s link to the jet operated by Executive Jet Club that was seized by Puerto Rican officials last month.
Khamraj Lall, a Guyanese pilot and owner of Executive Jet Club was nabbed after it was discovered that US$620,000, was stashed in the Jet he was operating.
In August 2010, Lall expressed interest in developing a hangar to operate an Executive Jet Service and Air Ambulance Service in Guyana, and in December of the following year, the management of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) received an application for land to construct a hangar to facilitate his aircraft operations.
Minister Benn explained that since Guyana did not have such services, Government thought it was a good opportunity, and after a year of review of the application, a Cabinet paper was presented and in October 2012, the lease approval, to allow for the construction of the hangar, which to date is not completed.
“Such procedure required that the flights be processed on the international apron and must be cleared by customs, immigrations and CANU (Customs Anti Narcotics Unit) and other law enforcement agencies to confirm that the standard operations procedure were followed…At no time in terms of the staff of the CJIA or the Civil Aviation Authority or the other security agencies, was any instruction given to the staff to waive the airport procedures with regards to the exec club staff egress or ingress at the airport,” Minister Benn further noted.
Speaking on the legality of the operations, Minister Benn said that the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (CCAA) can irrevocably confirm that Exec Jet Club LLC is not a club, but rather a limited liability company. The company was never granted a blanket approval to operate in Guyana, rather approval was granted by the GCAA on a per flight basis.
Exec Jet is authorised to conduct on demand, flights for compensation less than 4 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135 by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The company operates two (2) Westwind 1 Jets under Air Carrier Certificate #R6QA548L, and is authorised to operate in South America among other geographic regions such as Central America and Mexico.
The security has confirmed that checks were carried out at all times with regards to Exec Jet Club’s staff accessing restricted areas at the airport.
The gate, which allows access to the Exec Jet hangar, is not unique to this type of operation. At present, operators such as Laparkan, Amerijet and Rubis (Fuel Company) have their own gates to their facilities: While these agencies can access their facilities, they cannot access the airside or restricted areas of the airport without the approval of airport security. Because the construction is yet to be completed, the keys to the gates of the Exec Jet Club hangar are with the CJIA Security Department.
There was contention that Mr. Lall and the passengers of Exec Jet Club were allowed usage of the VIP lounge at CJIA. Minister Benn said that was never the case, however in the case of passengers, the President and his security staff on duty used the lounge during three trips to Antigua, St Vincent and Brazil. There were 18 flights for the year.
“In all of those cases, it was much more economical and on time when compared to other services. It was better to use their services to have a direct flight to your destination. It was a saving when that service was used by the President…I want to dispel any foolish notion with respect to those flights by His Excellency and to say that Guyanese persons with the means and the money could have gone to Exec Jet Club and access the services in like manner,” Minister Benn reiterated.