By Ray Chickrie
GUYANA / COLOMBIA – Guyana, on Wednesday, December 8, 2021, signed an open skies Air Services Agreement with Colombia. On the said day, Guyana also inked an air agreement with the Netherlands, to promote and facilitate airlines to operate air services between Guyana and Colombia and Guyana and the Netherlands.
In Bogota, the two countries signed a very liberal open-air agreement. The document was signed by Colombia Jair Orlando Fajardo, director, Colombian Civil Aviation Authority and Bishop Juan Edghill, minister of public works, at the thirteenth ICAO Air Services Negotiation (ICAN2021) event, which was held December 6-10 in Colombia.
In addition to the standard articles of Grant of Rights, designation and revocation; user charges; recognition of certificates and licences; tariffs; commercial opportunities; fair competition, inter alia, minister Edghill said: “In this Agreement, we have agreed to remove all restrictions on market access, capacity, frequencies, and pricing to create for a more open market and to give route rights to our respective airlines”.
Minister Edghill further noted that the agreement is in keeping with the government’s commitment to connecting Guyana with the rest of the world.
The agreement allows for Colombian investment in the Guyana aviation sector, a base to set up a Colombian funded airline.
“This means that the airlines could benefit from foreign share capital and investment, once they establish their main economic and operating base in either Colombia or Guyana. The principal place of business condition for airline designation is now a common inclusion in Air Services Agreements and creates a very advantageous position for small states with limited capital or financial resources.”
Presently there are no direct flights between Guyana and Colombia, however, this Agreement puts in place the legal framework that opens market access for airlines to operate and enhance competitive air transport services, trade, and economic growth between the two countries according to Edghill.
On December 8, Guyana’s foreign minister, Hugh Hilton Todd, and Henk Ary Christian van der Zwan, Non-Resident Ambassador of the Netherlands to Guyana, signed an Air Service Agreement between Guyana and the Netherlands.
The agreement will pave the way for the operation of air services between and beyond Guyana and the Netherlands.
KLM was one of the first airlines to serve Guyana and that dates back to the 1950s. KLM then linked Guyana to Dutch Guiana, now Suriname, and the Dutch-speaking islands of the Caribbean. KLM now has an agreement with Trans Guyana Airways (TGA) that connects passengers to Amsterdam and beyond via Paramaribo.
Guyana wants to have KLM extend its Paramaribo flights to Georgetown. TGA, Guyana premier local airlines, has a vast domestic network and also flies to Brazil, Barbados and Suriname.
Meanwhile, Guyana is talking to a group of inventors from Mexico who are looking to expand the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) further by adding a much larger and modern terminal.
“Looking ahead and based on the numbers that we have, within a decade, we will need a second terminal. So, His Excellency Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, has actually pulled together that meeting and asked us to meet with investors. We have identified an area for a second terminal building which is going to be very modern,” he added.