- Price of aviation fuel a concern
PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo said the Guyana Government is considering a proposal from a group of investors out of Greece and other places for a locally-based airline to ply North American and Caribbean routes, bringing much-needed relief to the traveling public here now being held to ransom during the peak period. “They are offering the Government free equity in the new airline. We have made it clear that we are prepared to give tax concessions for domestically based airlines so you will get a tax holiday, but the big concern has been the price of ‘avjet’ (aviation fuel) here. It’s over US$5 per gallon [here] when you can buy that for US$2.10 or US$2.35 [at airports in New York],” President Jagdeo said.
He said it is simply not competitive if an airline has to refuel here. “That is why when I was in Venezuela I raised the issue of us importing avjet directly and not through the current importer because they have a monopoly,” he said.
“If we can bring that price down it makes it very attractive for a home-based airline. They are talking about basing three aircraft here. They will use Guyana as a base,” he said, adding that no local partners are a part of this venture.
President Jagdeo said the airline will fly to North America and to the Caribbean “…but we still have that difficulty of getting the price of avjet down.” He said the Guyana Oil Company may be used to import the fuel.
The President said even though the airline does not make much in terms of profit margin, “we get the benefit in cheaper travel, people coming home, airport departure taxes; so you make it back on the other side”. He said, also, that there will be positive impacts on Guyana’s tourism product.
During the peak travel season, Guyanese and other persons have complained of the difficulties in finding a seat, either going or coming or both in some instances. Further, prices have been hiked by those holding the monopoly on travelling out of Trinidad, for example.
The President and Minister of Tourism Industry and Commerce Manniram Prashad have both intimated their desire to see relief brought to the travelling public, especially during the peak travel season. Some customers, including this reporter, had to buy a ticket far outside their intended travel times and then pay a hefty penalty fee for changing dates, just to have a possibility of being able to travel and return by a specific time.