interCaribbean Airways on Sunday repatriated Guyanese stranded across the Caribbean due to the closure of borders brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Flight 947 landed at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), around 4 p.m. with 51 Guyanese elated to have returned to their homeland.
interCaribbean’s regional jet originated in Tortola, British Virgin Islands and stopped in Antigua before continuing the journey to Guyana.
Guyana’s Department of Public Information (DPI) was on hand to witness the arrival and get passenger feedback. Asked if he is happy to see Guyana’s shores again, Berbician, Vaughn Trapp remarked: “Home is where the heart is.”
He told DPI that his intended three-week visit to Antigua, unfortunately, had to be extended to five months because of the airport closures.
“It was not a nice experience being away from home, very uncomfortable. The only struggle I had was trying to get chartered flights,” the New Amsterdam local artiste shared.
Also returning home, Lona Kellman, said she visited Antigua in March to spend time with her granddaughter and was also stranded. “You had to try hard to survive, there was no work,” she said. Kellman shared that is happy to be back and reunited with her sons at home.
For Kabita Rampersaud, her vacation in Tortola during COVID-19 “was challenging.” Like the other passengers, Rampersaud told DPI that she is excited to return home and looks forward to reuniting with her relatives.
Following meetings between the government and the Director-General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Lt. Col. Egbert Field, the Authority approved Eastern Airlines for chartered flights for both inbound and outbound passengers, during September and October, this year.
During a press conference on August 19, Minister of Public Works, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill, said the move has resolved the issue of late flight approvals, especially for Guyanese overseas.
It was also disclosed that the government is considering acquiring mist (sanitisation) tunnels for arriving and departing passengers. Minister Edghill said this would ensure that all the necessary health protocols required for the full reopening of the airport are met, and the government is in full compliance.
interCaribbean Airways is a Turks and Caicos based airline that has applied for the right to operate scheduled flights to Guyana prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline has also expanded its operation in the Eastern Caribbean in the wake of LIAT’s collapse.