A 94-passenger Embraer 190 jet operated by Copa Airlines taxis to its ramp position after landing at Piarco International Airport on its inaugural flight to Trinidad. Photo: Trinidad Guardian
By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
NEW YORK, USA -- Star Alliance member, Copa Airlines, which is set all to enter the Guyana market on July 11, began selling tickets a few days ago, which has led to lower airfares between Guyana and New York. However, airfares remain relatively high for peak season but at an all time low for non-peak.
One way fares from New York to Guyana start at US$ 325. However, economy class out of Guyana for the entire July and August period are sold out and the cheapest one way to New York from Guyana is US$1,095 bringing the total to US$1,420 for a roundtrip according to Copa online booking.
However, during the low season from the end of August to November, and from January to February 2015, an average roundtrip ticket costs about US$500.
From the end of August to November, Copa is offering an unbelievable US$365 roundtrip from New York to Guyana, which could be just a one-time special introductory fare.
Some of these lower fares are offered by CheapoAir, Orbitz and Priceline through Google Flight, which is a new and robust search engine.
Copa flies on Tuesdays and Fridays from Panama City to Guyana, using an Embraer 190 aircraft, which has the capacity to transport about 125 passengers. This will still leave Caribbean Airlines (CAL) much in control of the New York market, and travellers should not expect a big relief during peak season (summer and Christmas).
CAL will continue to dominate the Guyana/New York market. Their average fare to Guyana is about US$750 roundtrip but during the July-August period it is closer to US$800 and up, and in December during the Christmas season it increases to US$900.
Last September, during a visit to Guyana, head of corporate communication of CAL, Clint Williams said, “What we saw for summer was that people booked very early and a lot of the lower fare ranges were picked up very early.”
He added that each flight has a different fare structure and that the cheaper fares were purchased early by travellers, leaving last-minute travelers with higher airfares. But this does not appear to be accurate because, monitoring CAL’s online bookings since January 2014, the average airfare to Guyana for the summer peak season was close to US$800 roundtrip from New York and was not last minute.
Since Copa began selling tickets to Guyana, CAL has dropped its prices about US$50.
Another airline, the Curacao based Insel Air, is also set to enter the Guyana/Miami market in June. But the future of Insel is still uncertain because of financial troubles the company is experiencing and it is seeking financial help from the government of Curacao.
Surinam Airways (SLM) offers twice weekly non-stop Boeing 737-300 service on the same route as Caribbean Airlines via Port of Spain. However, the bulk of the market is the Guyana/New York route and that is still being underserved. CAL dominates this market after Delta pulled out last year and Copa’s twice weekly Embraer 190 service via Panama City will only transport about 500 people weekly. However, Copa has indicated that if the market demand increases, it will expand the service frequency or operate a Boeing 737-800 on the Guyana route, which can carry more passengers.
Copa is also offering a free stopover in Panama City and that includes hotel if the ticket is purchased directly from the airline. The airline also allows passengers two pieces of luggage at 50 pounds each without any additional charges.