Guyana and Canada signs Open Skies Agreement at ICAN meeting

Top officials of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) in November inked an Open Skies Agreement with Canada affording operators of the South American country to fly to any location in Canada.

The action was completed at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Air Services Negotiation (ICAN) meeting in Bali, Indonesia, where several other significant Air Service Agreements were also signed.

Canada is among Guyana’s largest air traffic destinations, but up until November when the GCAA team attended the meeting, operators out of Guyana were only permitted to fly to certain locations in the country. A public statement by the GCAA said that the new agreement between the two countries is imperative given the air movement between the two countries.

The aviation body stated further that the new agreement replaces “the restrictive existing Air Services Agreement signed in May 2005.” The agreement will create more opportunities for greater air linkages between the two countries, since it allows Guyanese air operators to access any point in Canada, it was stated.

The ICAN meeting which lasted from November 17 to the 21 was attended by Director General the GCAA Zulficar Mohamed, Saheed Sulaman, GCAA’s Air Transport Officer, Amanza Walton-Desir, the agency’s General Counsel, and Ramesh Ghir, Chief Executive Officer, Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).

The primary purpose of ICAN is to facilitate a single forum where Contracting States of ICAO can conduct multiple bilateral (regional or plurilateral) air services negotiations or consultations for the growth and development of international air services.

Guyana is a signatory to ICAO which has approximately 191 member states. GCAA said that the seventh ICAN meeting brought together 78 Contracting States of ICAO and was the biggest success of all ICAN meetings since its inception in 2008. “There were more than 600 participants; 550 bilateral meetings and 530 Air Services Agreements and Memorandum of Understandings negotiated, initialed and signed.

It was pointed out that Guyana was scheduled for thirteen 13 formal negotiation meetings with China, Kenya, Curaçao, Singapore, Ghana, United Kingdom, Norway, Netherlands, Iceland, Qatar, Russian Federation, Canada and Nigeria. With the exception of the Russian Federation, 12 of those negotiations were finalized resulting in the initialing of twelve 12 Air Services Agreements and the signing of eleven 11 Memorandum of Understandings and an Agreed Minutes.

With the exception of Norway, all of the Agreements initialed are provisionally effective until the formal Agreements are signed by the respective Governments, GCAA noted. “This means that traffic rights allowable under the Agreements can be immediately accessed by the bilateral parties to the Agreements.”

Air Services Agreements were negotiated with at least one country from each of the major continents and regions of the world, GCAA related. These are Singapore and China for Asia; Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria for Africa; Curacao for the Dutch Caribbean; Canada for North America; United Kingdom, Norway and Netherlands for Europe and Qatar for the Middle East. GCAA said that these member states have emerging importance in aviation for traffic connectivity and is necessary in aiding Guyana’s strategic efforts in becoming an international hub to connect with the rest of the world.

GCAA classified Guyana’s participation in the ICAN meeting as a major success. “Guyana and Curaçao were the first two States to initial an Air Services Agreement and sign a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate the exchange of traffic rights between the two countries. Guyana was also among States with a high percentage of concluded Agreements, that is, a 92 percent conclusion rate.”

The aviation agency related that the negotiation of all of ICAN Agreements will significantly complement the current development initiatives of the Government to facilitate and enhance the country’s aviation sector.